Long Island Housing Services and Eagle Rock Properties Settle Source of Income Discrimination Complaint
In the summer of 2017, Long Island Housing Services, Inc. (LIHS) received a complaint from an individual seeking to rent an apartment from Eagle Rock Properties in Nassau County. The individual planned to take advantage of the Nassau County Department of Social Services’ “one-shot deal” program that provides financial assistance to low income individuals for a security deposit. When this individual made Eagle Rock aware of her intention to use the “one shot deal” she was told that they don’t accept programs in violation of Nassau County law.
People who believe that they have experienced housing discrimination who live in Nassau or Suffolk Counties, can contact Long Island Housing Services at 631-567-5111 ext. 375 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In response to the individual’s request for assistance, LIHS conducted an investigation and found evidence that Eagle Rock was discriminating against apartment-seekers on a Source of Income basis.
LIHS and the individual filed a complaint with the Nassau County Commission on Human Rights regarding the findings of Source of Income discrimination by Eagle Rock. Nassau County Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s
Source of Income, whether derived from:
- child support,
- Social Security Disability, or
- rental assistance programs such as Section 8 (Housing Choice Voucher Program).
It also prohibits discrimination based on:
- national origin,
- familial status,
- marital status, and
- sexual orientation.
Nassau County law provides Fair Housing protections in addition to New York State Human Rights Law and the federal Fair Housing Act.
After negotiation, LIHS and Eagle Rock reached a settlement agreement that requires Eagle Rock to provide fair housing training to all of its employees involved in the apartment rental process. They will be educated on the basics of federal, state, and local fair housing laws.
Additionally, Eagle Rock will be required to prominently display the Equal Housing Opportunity logo on the signs for all of their rental properties, and must maintain a non-discrimination policy that requires all staff involved in the apartment rental process to comply with federal, state, and local fair housing laws, including protections against Source of Income discrimination. Eagle Rock must also revise its rental application to affirmatively state that all sources of income are accepted.
Ian Wilder, Executive Director of Long Island Housing Services, Inc. stated:
“While we’re pleased with the actions that Eagle Rock agreed to take to assure enforcement of Fair Housing laws, based on experience with other complaints that Long Island Housing Services has brought, there is still so much work to be done. LIHS’ past work in getting Source of Income discrimination laws passed on Long Island, along with the work of our partners and supporters, sends the message that discriminatory practices based on type of income will not go unchecked.
We are also excited to have to have joined with #BanIncomeBiasNY, a statewide coalition formed to address the issue through a long-overdue change in State law. We appreciate the continued support of our friends, partners, and sponsors that makes this important work possible.”
LIHS has been working to make sure that Source of Income laws are enforced throughout Long Island. In another Nassau County investigation, LIHS v. Ben-Art Realty, Long Island Housing Services uncovered discrimination based on Source of Income and disability when the applicants’ income included section 8 vouchers
Discrimination against applicants with service dogs was also uncovered in a suit against BEA Properties. Long Island Housing Services uncovered discrimination in Nassau and Suffolk Counties toward applicants with disabilities who had service animals and emotional support animals, along with discrimination toward applicants based on Source of Income.
In both cases, monetary damages were awarded and the property owners were required to provide training in Fair Housing laws to their employees.
A statewide Source of Income law would provide a single standard determining housing discrimination. Currently, there are different Source of Income laws in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Syracuse, and New York City. Other parts of the State lack adequate protection for many individuals, and discrimination based on Source of Income remains widespread. Governor Cuomo recently introduced a bill, and more than 40 advocacy groups across the State have joined in support so far. More information can be found on Twitter at @banincomebiasny
The Fair Housing enforcement and advocacy work of LIHS is supported through grants from the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (“FHIP”) of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (“HUD”) and from the Nassau County Office of Housing and Community Development (“OHCD”), which provides support for LIHS’ housing counseling and fair housing efforts with federal pass-through funds of HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program.
Founded in 1969, Long Island Housing Services (www.LIFairHousing.org) is a private, nonprofit HUD-qualified Fair Housing Enforcement Organization and a federally certified, approved Housing Counseling agency. LIHS’ mission is the elimination of unlawful discrimination and promotion of decent and affordable housing through advocacy and education.