Feds settle housing discrimination suit
By Adam Wisnieski
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has settled a civil rights lawsuit with the owners, management company and superintendent of 3800 Independence Ave., for discriminating against African-Americans.
The agreement struck in a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday stipulates that Loventhal Silver Riverdale, LLC, the owner of the building, and superintendent Jesus Velasco pay a combined $40,000 penalty. The two parties along with Goodman Management must set up a $35,000 victim fund that will be used to compensate victims of the discriminatory practices.
Mr. Velasco, the super, testified in court that he refused to show available apartments to African-Americans on the same day in 2009 that he showed the apartments to white renters.
The admission constitutes a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Because Loventhal Silver owned the building and Goodman managed the building Mr. Velasco was the super of, both must help set up the victim fund.
According to its website, Goodman manages 32 buildings in Riverdale, as well as other properties in the Bronx, Queens and Yonkers.
“This settlement rectifies blatant racial discrimination by an employee of Loventhal Silver Riverdale, LLC, and ensures that future prospective tenants will be treated fairly under the law. The settlement reflects this Office’s commitment to enforcing the Fair Housing Act and eradicating discriminatory real estate practices,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a press release.
On four days in 2009, African-American testers from the Fair Housing Justice Center went to the six-story, 72-unit building inquiring about apartments, followed shortly by Caucasian testers, according to the suit. On every occasion, Mr. Velasco either refused to give African-Americans rental applications or told them there were no available apartments, while giving white apartment seekers the exact opposite information.
On Nov. 18, 2009, Mr. Velasco told an African-American tester there were no vacancies and that apartments in the building ranged from $1,300 to $1,600 or $1,800 per month, the complaint alleges. Later that day, Mr. Velasco showed a white tester an apartment, gave the tester an application and said he could rent the available apartment for a discounted price of less than $1,300.
KeywordsAdam Wisnieski, Loventhal Silver Riverdale LLC, 3800 Independence Avenue, discrimination, racism,