AG alleges racial discrimination by some landlords

July 6, 2010 3:50:22 PM PDT
The Attorney General's Office is alleging racial discrimination against some local landlords. Investigators conducted a kind of sting by sending prospective tenants, black and white, to rent an apartment.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says they found that some building owners and managers refuse to rent or show apartments to black applicants.

"The nation passed the Fair Housing Act in 1968. New York emulated that law. Today the fight is just as real as it was in 1968," Cuomo said.

The Attorney General alleges it happened at two buildings on Ocean Parkway in Midwood, Brooklyn.

The Attorney General's office did undercover tests in buildings like this one. They used white testers and black testers. Right down the color line, each tester got a different story.

Cuomo says the white person and black person for each test were equally qualified and showed up on the same day.

Yet the investigation found that landlords and rental agents told black testers there were no apartment available when apartments were available.

They also told black testers that they had to make an appointment and fill out an application before seeing apartments, but allowed white testers to view apartments immediately.

They also discouraged black testers from applying, saying pending applications would prevent their application from being considered, while not telling the same to white testers.

Victoria Eisenberg is a tenant at one of the buildings. She doesn't believe the allegations because she sees diversity here.

"There are black families. There are mixed families. There are families from east. There are a lot of different families," Eisenberg said.

Right now the attorney general's office has a lawsuit against the owner and property manager of 1648-50 Ocean Parkway.

Cuomo reached an agreement with reps at 1750. They agreed to get anti-discrimination training for rental agents, implement new rental procedures and pay 40-thousand dollars in damages.

Attorneys for both refused to comment.

Neighbor Michelle Volkes hopes it helps.

"Everything should be mixed. We live a mixed world," she said.

The attorney general has conducted 200 tests over the past three years. He says let the latest investigations should be a warning.