Fair Housing Discrimination Lawsuit
On Wednesday, August 28, 2013, ERASE Racism, the Fair Housing Justice Center (“FHJC”) and three African American testers filed a lawsuit in federal district court alleging that the owners and managers of an apartment building in the Village of Mineola discriminates against African American renters. This lawsuit came about after a 2012 investigation, jointly funded and sponsored by ERASE Racism and FHJC, which included sending several teams of comparably qualified African American and white testers posing as prospective renters to inquire about apartments at the 74-unit Town House Apartments located at 225 First Street in the Village of Mineola, a predominantly white community in Nassau County. According to the lawsuit, an “Apartment for Rent” sign appeared at the entrance of one of the largest rental buildings in Mineola. Despite the sign, the complaint alleges that the building superintendent discouraged African Americans from renting apartments by misrepresenting the availability of apartments, not showing available apartments, quoting higher rents, and/or suggesting there could be a wait because other people were ahead of them.
Please read the entire press release here.
A copy of the complaint can be found here .
Long Island is one of the most racially segregated regions in the country. For the past ten years, ERASE Racism has documented how housing discrimination plays a significant role in determining the neighborhoods where African Americans on Long Island will most likely reside. We have reported that, as a direct result of patterns of housing segregation, only 9% of Long Island’s black students have access to high performing schools as compared to 30% of white students. Studies have also shown that even the most affluent black and Hispanic homeowners are segregated into majority black and Hispanic communities with high concentrations of poverty.
These factors point to structural impediments for blacks to housing choice and to quality education. Nonetheless, studies about neighborhood preferences often suggest that so-called “self-segregation” is at play by all racial groups, including blacks, not structural racism. In response to this assertion, we have now asked a large pool of black Long Islanders about the characteristics they value in a neighborhood. Our questions included perceptions of their current neighborhood and thoughts about their ideal neighborhood. We also asked about personal experiences with housing discrimination and their desire to stay in or move away from Long Island.
Neighborhood Racial Demographics and Housing Discrimination
- When asked about the percentage mix that best represents the kind of neighborhood in which they would most like to live, nearly all respondents (all of whom were black) chose a racially mixed neighborhood, with a large majority, 69%, who chose an even mix of 50% white and 50% black. Only 1% chose all-black.
- Among blacks who said their neighborhoods had become less African American in the last 10 years, 80% said that Latinos had largely replaced blacks in their area.
- Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they believe that African Americans miss out on housing because real estate agents will not show blacks homes in white areas. Just under half, 44%, believe that African Americans miss out on housing because white homeowners and landlords will not rent or sell to blacks. Altogether, over 80% of respondents said these forms of housing discrimination are somewhat or very likely to affect blacks.
- Roughly one out of three respondents said that they have, or a family member has, been a victim of housing discrimination. A majority of those respondents explained that the discrimination involved a real estate agent who would not show, sell, or rent them homes in mostly white areas, when they could, in fact, have afforded those homes.
Neighborhood Quality Preferences and Satisfaction with Current Neighborhood
- A majority of African Americans reported that they consider a low crime rate (89%), landlords/homeowners who take care of their property (81%), high quality public schools (80%) and good local services (78%) as the most important neighborhood characteristics.
- Only 28% of blacks considered “living close to family and friends” as one of the most important neighborhood qualities and a majority, 64% or almost two-thirds, said that they received a little or no assistance from their neighbors in finding jobs, babysitting, and carpooling.
- Only 16% rated their local schools as excellent, while nearly half, 40%, rated them as fair or poor. Fifty-five percent of those in high-need districts rated their local schools as fair or poor, compared to 11% in low-need and average-need districts. In addition, only 37% believe that local public schools are a good value compared to the taxes that they pay.
- Thirty-seven percent of black residents rated their local government services as fair or poor and 43% said that they are not a good value compared to the taxes they pay.
- Roughly half, 52%, of all blacks said they are somewhat or very likely to leave Long Island in the next five years. Another 27% said that they were somewhat or very likely to move from their current residence to somewhere else on Long Island. When asked why they were thinking of moving to another area on the Island, the most common response, by roughly 40%, was unhappiness with their current neighborhood.