On May 6, 2021, the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission (SCHRC) found that Greenbriar Luxury Apartments and Marbil Investors, LLC, discriminated against individuals with housing vouchers in violation of the Source of Income provision of the Suffolk County Human Rights Law based on a complaint brought by Long Island Housing Services, Inc. (LIHS). This is the first decision of the SCHR Commission based on the Suffolk law.
As part of the investigation, LIHS’ testers posed as ordinary home seekers to observe the business practices of Greenbriar in order to determine compliance with fair housing laws. LIHS used paired undercover testers with similar characteristics, except for the Housing Choice Vouchers, to pose as perspective renters.
Long Island Housing Services’ testing and investigation in 2015 and 2016 revealed that Greenbriar Luxury Apartments were discriminating against individuals with Housing Choice vouchers. Greenbriar told three different testers posing as persons receiving a Housing Choice voucher that they do not accept Housing Choice vouchers. In comparison, testers without housing vouchers were informed of available and soon to be available units.
The SCHRC Order directed Greenbriar and Marbil to accept Housing Choice vouchers and all legal sources of income. They were ordered to communicate their acceptance of all legal sources of income with potential applicants and sign any required documents for applicants with housing voucher holders. Lastly, they were found liable for all of LIHS’ costs and resources in combating the discrimination by the Respondents.
New York State and Suffolk County Human Rights Laws both prohibit discrimination based on a lawful source of income. Source of income discrimination occurs when a housing provider refuses to accept a lawful source of income, which includes, but not limited to, Supplemental Social Income (SSI), Social Security Disability (SSD), Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, Nursing Home Transition and Diversion (NHTD) Housing Subsidy, Olmstead Housing Subsidy (OHS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Medicaid Waiver program, or child support.
“This is the first decision enforcing Suffolk County law outlawing Source of Income Discrimination,” said Ian Wilder, Executive Director of Long Island Housing Services, Inc. “We were only able to receive this positive decision five years later through the work of Long Island Housing Services Fair Housing staff and our Executive Director Emeritus Michelle Santantonio. In the meantime, Long Island Housing Services continued its work of joining in coalition to the get the Source of Income discrimination law passed statewide. Despite the statewide law, Long Island Housing Services is still finding Source of Income discrimination in our investigations and testing. Housing providers need to immediately update their policies to prevent this type of 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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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 Fair Housing enforcement and advocacy work of LIHS is supported by the Suffolk County Office of Housing and Community Development, which provides support for LIHS’ housing counseling and fair housing efforts with federal pass-through funds of HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program. 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 or Suffolk County.