FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2021
For more information contact: Sally Santangelo, Executive Director, (315) 471-0420 or email@example.com
Syracuse, NY – Yesterday, CNY Fair Housing filed lawsuits in state court against two apartment owners and their management companies for discriminating against individuals with Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV; also known as Section 8 vouchers) and other forms of government rental assistance.
Discrimination based on lawful source of income—including vouchers and other rental subsidies, as well as child support, alimony, and disability and unemployment benefits—was outlawed by the City of Syracuse in 2016. In 2019, New York State amended its Human Rights Law to ban such discrimination statewide.
In one lawsuit, CNY Fair Housing alleges that the owners and managers of Rugby Square Apartments on Dorchester Avenue in Syracuse categorically refuse to rent to individuals who receive rental assistance through the HCV program. As alleged in the complaint, when CNY Fair Housing’s undercover testers inquired about renting an apartment, they were repeatedly and consistently told that Rugby Square does not accept Section 8 vouchers.
In the other lawsuit, CNY Fair Housing alleges that the owners and managers of Norstar Apartments in Liverpool maintain and enforce a minimum income policy with the intent and unjustified effect of disproportionately excluding individuals who receive rental assistance. As alleged in the complaint, Norstar’s owners and managers refuse to rent to applicants who do not meet a minimum income requirement equivalent to three times the rent, yet they fail to appropriately consider whether applicants who receive rental assistance could afford rent when such assistance is taken into account. The lawsuit was filed on the behalf of both CNY Fair Housing and an individual with disability-based rental assistance who was disqualified from renting under Norstar’s minimum income policy.
“In the City of Syracuse and across the State, it’s illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to individuals and households just because they receive Section 8 or other forms of rental assistance. Unfortunately, some housing providers continue to flout the law,” said CNY Fair Housing’s Executive Director, Sally Santangelo. “Outwardly neutral policies that deny housing to recipients of rental assistance despite their ability to afford rent are just as harmful as explicit or overt refusals to rent to someone because they receive rental assistance. Both practices deprive individuals and families of greater housing choice, and both practices equally violate the law.”
The plaintiffs in both lawsuits are represented by CNY Fair Housing Staff Attorneys Conor Kirchner and Casey Weissman-Vermeulen.
CNY Fair Housing is a nonprofit organization that works to eliminate housing discrimination, promote open communities, and ensure equal access to housing opportunity for all people in Central and Northern New York.