NYC Landlord Hit with Lawsuit for Housing Discrimination, Made Applicants' Children Take Unnecessary Lead Tests

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Andrew Keshner
New York Daily News

A landlord with buildings all throughout New York City flouted housing discrimination laws and made it extra tough for families with small kids to find places in their properties, according to a Brooklyn federal lawsuit filed Monday.

The Parkoff Organization allegedly lied to African-Americans about availability and rental rates in at least one Brooklyn apartment, turned back applicants with public rent assistance elsewhere and made children undergo unnecessary lead tests.

The Fair Housing Justice Center said it built its case against the landlord – which owns more than 75 buildings and 4,500 rental units – using testers posing as prospective tenants.

The suit says the “extensive and systematic discrimination must stop. Their behavior is not simply offensive: It causes enormous harm.”

White and black testers got different stories at one Kings Highway building near Midwood and Marine Park, according to the suit. It was allegedly slim pickings at the building for African-Americans, with prices between $1,500 and $1,650 for a one-bedroom apartment. But it was $1,420 to $1,500 for white testers.

It's a “profound insult to any person to be treated differently," said Mariann Wang, who represents the housing nonprofit and the three testers suing Parkoff. "It’s upsetting for my clients. As any New Yorker we should all be upset.”

The lawsuit noted the company has been challenged on its housing practices before. Another case filed more than 25 years ago ended with the Parkoff Organization entering a consent order, the lawsuit said.

Richard Parkoff, who heads the company, declined to comment.

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