Harlem Real Estate Brokers Pay For Discriminating Against Poor

August 13, 2014

sneinerdmanNYDailyNew reports that two Brooklyn real estate brokers and one from Harlem agreed to pay a combined $39,000 to settle allegations that they discriminated against low-income tenants.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched a broad investigation in response to complaints from apartment seekers, who said they were rejected after they told brokers they would use Section 8 housing vouchers to pay the rent.

…denying a home to someone because they receive government assistance is one of the most insidious, having a disproportionate effect on black and Hispanic individuals…

“Discrimination comes in many forms, but denying a home to someone because they receive government assistance is one of the most insidious, having a disproportionate effect on black and Hispanic individuals,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

In Brooklyn, Brownstone Real Estate agreed to pay $18,000, records show. The firm, with three locations in the borough, maintained a policy of not accepting vouchers, Schneiderman’s investigation found.

Destination Real Estate, in downtown Brooklyn, settled for $6,000. The firm advertised an apartment as “Income Only,” and a broker later said that designation precluded tenants with government assistance.

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In Harlem, Absolute Properties paid $15,000. An employee at the firm told an undercover investigator that “they don’t do Section 8,” according to Schneiderman’s office.

Two of the brokers did not immediately return calls and emails seeking comment.

As part of the settlement, they agreed to change their policies to ensure all applicants get equal access to available spots.

“Absolute Properties has always been and continues to be a champion of fair housing laws,” said firm rep Justin Sher. “As a result of the investigation, Absolute Properties discovered that some of its agents did not fully understand the regulation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of lawful source of income as it is interpreted by the Attorney General.”

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