Long Island Housing Services, Inc. (LIHS) initiated a systemic fair housing investigation in 2016 for possible disability discrimination. LIHS’ analysis of its testing and investigation presented sufficient evidence to file a complaint that alleged that Southwood Luxury Apartments and the owner, Southwood Company LLC appeared to be discriminating against individuals with disabilities. Southwood Luxury Apartment is located in North Amityville, New York. Southwood Company LLC is owned by Heatherwood Communities LLC.
As part of the systemic investigation of Southwood Luxury Apartments, LIHS’ testers posed as ordinary home seekers to observe the business practices of Southwood Luxury Apartments in order to determine compliance with fair housing laws.
The LIHS complaint alleged that a tester with a disability was told by Southwood superintendent Robert Crisci that obtaining an assigned handicapped parking spot was “not possible” and that “people have asked.”
The complaint also alleged that in another fair housing test, former Southwood leasing office former employee Kathleen Hogan said that the tester would essentially need to rely on the neighbors understanding that it would be their unassigned handicapped parking spot and that the neighbors would not use it or permit their guests to use it. In addition, the complaint also alleged that Hogan told a tester that they could not live on the second floor if they had a service animal.
The federal Fair Housing Act, New York State Human Rights Law, and Suffolk County Human Rights Law all prohibit housing discrimination based on disability. In 2018, LIHS filed a federal complaint based on discrimination.
People who believe that they have experienced housing discrimination in Nassau or Suffolk Counties, can contact Long Island Housing Services, Inc. at 631-567-5111 ext. 375. Hablamos Español 631-567-5111 Ext. 378 or email@example.com
Reinforcing Fair Housing Rights
After negotiation, the parties reached a settlement agreement, including policy changes that include adopting a non-discriminatory fair housing policy, a parking policy, emotional support and service animal policy, displaying equal housing opportunity logo and providing fair housing training to their employees and agents.
“The improvements made to Southwood’s policies will benefit all Long Islanders in the future,” said Ian Wilder, LIHS Executive Director. “It is inefficient for these basic fair housing policies to only be enacted after a complaint. They should be a required part of operating multifamily housing development.”
Southwood Company LLC and Heatherwood Communities LLC agreed to settle with Long Island Housing Services for $86,500 in monetary damages.
Related Fair Housing Complaints
In 2019, LIHS’ clients brought a housing discrimination complaint against Heatherwood Communities LLC based on allegations that it discriminated based on familial status. In 2020, the parties reached a settlement agreement, including policy changes that include posting a non-discriminatory fair housing policy on their website and providing fair housing training to leasing director and customer service director. Heatherwood also agreed to settle the complaint with LIHS’ client for $17,500 in monetary damages.
Also the Fair Housing Justice Center currently has a federal litigation against Heatherwood Communities LLC based on allegations of disability that it found new rental developments in Brooklyn and Queens were not built to accessibility standards.
Founded in 1969, Long Island Housing Services’ mission is the elimination of unlawful discrimination and promotion of decent and affordable housing through advocacy and education LIHS is a private, nonprofit HUD-qualified Fair Housing Enforcement Organization and a federally certified, approved Housing Counseling agency. (www.LIFairHousing.org)
The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.