Manhattan U.S. Attorney Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit With Owner, Manager, And Superintendent Of Riverdale Apartment Complex
Superintendent Admits that He Did Not Show Available Apartments to African-Americans
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, today announced a settlement of the United States’ lawsuit against LOVENTHAL SILVER RIVERDALE, LLC, GOODMAN MANAGEMENT, and JESUS VELASCO for discriminating against African-American apartment seekers in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The settlement, in the form of a consent decree, resolves a lawsuit filed by the United States on September 26, 2011. It enjoins LOVENTHAL SILVER RIVERDALE, GOODMAN MANAGEMENT, and VELASCO from discriminating based on race or color in the terms or conditions of renting a dwelling, and establishes a $35,000 victim fund that will be available to compensate the victims of their discriminatory practices. Defendants LOVENTHAL SILVER RIVERDALE and VELASCO must also pay a $40,000 civil penalty. The settlement was signed today in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “This settlement rectifies blatant racial discrimination by an employee of Loventhal Silver Riverdale, LLC, and ensures that future prospective tenants will be treated fairly under the law. The settlement reflects this Office’s commitment to enforcing the Fair Housing Act and eradicating discriminatory real estate practices.”
According to the Complaint and the Consent Decree filed in Manhattan federal court:
LOVENTHAL SILVER RIVERDALE owns an apartment complex at 3800 Independence Avenue in Riverdale, New York, which consists of approximately 72 rental apartment units. GOODMAN MANAGEMENT is the management company for the complex. Under the settlement, VELASCO, the superintendent of the complex, admits that, on repeated occasions, he informed prospective African-American tenants that there were no available apartments, while, on the same day, he informed prospective Caucasian tenants that there were available apartments in the building.
The defendants must place notices about the settlement to potential victims of housing discrimination in newspapers in Bronx County. Victims will have five months from the entry of the Court’s Consent Decree to contact the United States about any discrimination by LOVENTHAL SILVER RIVERDALE, GOODMAN MANAGEMENT, or VELASCO, and any harm they sustained as a result of the defendants’ conduct.
Under the Consent Decree: LOVENTHAL SILVER RIVERDALE and GOODMAN MANAGEMENT must implement a policy of uniform, non-discriminatory standards and procedures for showing available apartments to prospective tenants; educate their employees on federal and state housing discrimination laws; and submit periodic reports to the Government containing information about their rental activities. The United States will monitor the defendants’ compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree for a minimum of three years.
Mr. Bharara thanked the Fair Housing Justice Center for its assistance in the investigation. The allegations in the Complaint were based on evidence from tests generated by the Fair Housing Justice Center, in which individuals pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices.
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Department of Justice. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status (having one or more children under 18), national origin, and disability. Individuals who believe they have experienced or witnessed unlawful housing discrimination may call the U.S. Attorney’s Office civil rights complaint hotline in the Southern District of New York at (212) 637-0840, the national Housing Discrimination Tip Line at (800) 896-7743, or contact HUD at (800) 669-9777.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Alicia M. Simmons is in charge of the case.