WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has approved a conciliation agreement between Long Island Housing Services (LIHS) and Farmingdale Villas, LLC, the owner of apartment complexes in Farmingdale, New York, resolving allegations that employees of the housing provider discriminated against applicants based on their race. Specifically, LIHS alleged that the employees treated white testers posing as prospective tenants who were inquiring about apartments more favorably than black testers posing as prospective tenants. Read the agreement.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from refusing to rent or negotiate for the rental of housing because of race or color. It also prohibits housing providers from treating applicants differently because of race or color.
“The color of a person’s skin shouldn’t determine whether they have the opportunity to obtain a place to live,” said Anna María Farías, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “That type of discriminatory treatment is unacceptable, and today’s settlement reaffirms HUD’s commitment to taking appropriate action when housing providers violate the law.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when LIHS, a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agency, filed a complaint after several African Americans reported to LIHS that they believed they were denied the opportunity to rent apartments at Farmingdale Villas because of their race. In response to these reports, LIHS conducted fair housing testing using white and black testers who posed as prospective renters. LIHS’s complaint stated that the tests showed that white testers received more favorable treatment, including being told about the upcoming availability of units, while black testers were told that there was a long waiting list and that no units were available. The owners denied discriminating, but agreed to settle the complaint.
Under the terms of the Conciliation Agreement, Farmingdale Villas, LLC, will pay $25,000 to LIHS, develop and maintain a non-discrimination policy, and provide fair housing training for employees of Farmingdale Villas who have contact with prospective and current tenants and applicants. In addition, Farmingdale Villas, LLC, will create a $10,000 compensation fund for individuals who were denied housing or received misinformation about the availability of housing at Farmingdale Villas because of their race.
People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).