New York’s Fair Housing Justice Center sent “apartment renters” to a Bronx building pretending to be looking for an apartment. When white testers asked the landlord he showed them the available apartments. When black testers approached the same landlord — just moments after the white testers who had turned down the available apartment — they were told there were no vacancies.
The Fair Housing Justice Center says it’s a case of housing discrimination and now the company that owns the building is being sued for its biased treatment of prospective black tenants.
“Today, housing discrimination is like a revolving door where people are politely and courteously escorted in, out of, and ultimately away from the desired housing so there’s no way they would even know they’re being discriminated against,” said Fred Freiberg, executive director of the Fair Justice Center.
The Fair Housing Justice filed the federal lawsuit against J.J.A. Holding Corp., which owns at least five large buildings in the Bronx with a total of more than 200 units. The proof is audio recordings of rental agent Ray Brij-Raj telling the black renters that there were no vacancies in the buildings right after he told whites there were.
It is against federal law to discriminate against anyone for housing on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, presence of children and disability.
According to Freiberg, the Fair Housing Justice Center goes on tips and Census data to look for buildings and neighborhoods that are not as diverse as the communities that surround them. For the Bronx case, the center performed multiple tests at buildings in the Woodlawn neighborhood over a period of several months before pursuing a lawsuit. “The buildings where the organization did its tests are in a neighborhood where less than 5 percent of residents are black. The neighborhood directly to the east is 51 to 75 percent black, while the one to the north is between 6 percent and 25 percent black,” reports NBC New York.
If you’ve experienced housing discriminated, fill out a complaint form with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.