New York City Submits Amicus Brief To Support A Lawsuit Alleging Source Of Income Discrimination At Brooklyn’s Spring Creek Towers

The New York City Law Department today announced that the City of New York has submitted an amicus brief to support a lawsuit filed by individuals who allege landlords discriminated against them based on their "source of income,” in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. The 2015 lawsuit brought by two individuals and the Fair Housing Justice Center against Starrett City, Inc. and Grenadier Realty Corp. claims the two women were each denied rental apartments at Spring Creek Towers in Brooklyn because they were planning to pay their rent with a voucher from the Living in Communities (LINC) program. LINC is a city initiative that helps homeless individuals and families move from temporary shelters into stable homes. A New York State Supreme Court ruling denied the defendant owners’ motion to dismiss the case, but the defendants have appealed that decision. The city’s brief argues against their efforts, saying they are distorting the scope and application of City antidiscrimination law and that the appeals court should reject any attempt to exclude LINC participants and other recipients of state and local housing assistance from the Human Rights Law’s source of income protections.  The City’s amicus brief is attached.
Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter said: “Our Human Rights Law is clearly intended to protect recipients of government assistance, including persons using housing vouchers from programs such as LINC, from source of income discrimination. Defendants’ arguments that these New Yorkers fall outside the scope of our anti-discrimination law misconstrue prior court rulings and are inconsistent with the very best of our city’s values of inclusion, fairness and access to opportunity for all.” 
 
“To automatically consider renters who receive rental assistance vouchers undesirable tenants is not only unfair but also illegal in the City of New York, said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “We are dedicated to addressing this problem to ensure that landlords understand and comply with the law and that tenants with rental assistance vouchers are aware of their rights.”   
 
Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Carmelyn P. Malalis said: “Discrimination based on a tenant's source of income is prohibited under the NYC Human Rights Law and the appeals court must reject any attempt by landlords or brokers to skirt these vital Human Right Law protections. The Commission, which has made this a priority area of enforcement, launched 120 new investigations into source of income discrimination last year, the highest in the Commission’s history. We look forward to further collaboration with the Law Department to support crucial cases like this one.”

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