ECBA Settles Racial Housing Discrimination Case Against Bronx Cooperative

Today, a federal judge approved a settlement agreement between the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and the Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative, Inc. (EPOC). The lawsuit, filed in February 2010, alleged that Edgewater Park and Silver Beach Gardens, two housing cooperatives in the Throggs Neck area of the Bronx, and a real estate broker were discriminating against African American prospective home buyers. The two communities, which together are comprised of 1,025 homes, required that prospective buyers provide three references from existing shareholders, a rule the complaint claimed discriminated against African Americans.

In addition to eliminating the three shareholder reference policy and requiring EPOC to abide by fair housing laws, the settlement agreement requires that the cooperative provide fair housing training for employees, prominently display fair housing posters, adopt a non-discrimination policy, and notify local brokers about the policy. Further, EPOC will purchase advertising space in Bronx newspapers marketing Edgewater Park as a “welcoming community” that invites “all home buyers to consider purchasing a home.” Finally, EPOC will pay $385,000 to the FHJC for damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.

The other cooperative in the case, Silver Beach Gardens, settled with the FHJC in May 2011 for similar injunctive relief and $115,000 in damages, fees, and costs. The defendant real estate broker also agreed to pay damages and surrendered her real estate license. The plaintiffs in the case were represented by ECBA’s Diane L. Houk, Adam Pulver, and Sam Shapiro.

.