On October 18, 2016, the Division filed a statement of interest in Fortune Society, Inc. v. Sandcastle Towers Housing Development Fund Corp. (E.D.N.Y.). The case was brought by an organization that helps formerly incarcerated individuals find housing challenging the practices of an affordable rental apartment complex with 917 units in Far Rockaway, Queens. The statement of interest aims to assist the court in evaluating whether a housing provider’s policy that considers criminal records in an application process produces unlawful discriminatory effects in violation of the FHA. Although the FHA does not forbid housing providers from considering applicants’ criminal records, the brief explains that “categorical prohibitions that do not consider when the conviction occurred, what the underlying conduct entailed, or what the convicted person has done since then run a substantial risk of having a disparate impact based on race or national origin.” The brief also explains that when a housing provider has a criminal record check policy with a disparate impact, the housing provider must “prove with evidence – and not just by invoking generalized concerns about safety – that the ban is necessary.” Even then, the policy will still violate the FHA if there is a less discriminatory alternative.
Case Open Date:
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Fortune Society Inc. v. Sandcastle Towers Housing Development Fund Corp. et al. ( E.D.N.Y.)
Civil Rights - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Updated October 19, 2016