NO MINIMUM INCOME REQUIREMENTS PERMITTED FOR APPLICANTS WITH RENTAL SUBSIDIES
On October 2, 2023, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) announced a federal court decision finding that a large New York City landlord had engaged in disability and source of housing discrimination. Judge Edgardo Ramos of the Southern District of New York held that Goldfarb Properties’ rental criteria violated federal and local fair housing laws and entered an injunction prohibiting the company from applying minimum income requirements to applicants with rental subsidies or vouchers.
On October 10, 2023, Defendants Pelican Management, Inc., Fordham One Company, LLC, and Cedar Two Company, LLC, (together operating as Goldfarb Properties) filed a notice of appeal of the decision and injunction with the Second Circuit. Goldfarb Properties then filed an emergency motion for a partial stay against the minimum income standard injunction as it applied to renters with partial subsidies, arguing that the Court should halt that portion of the injunction while the case is pending appeal.
On November 6, 2023, Judge Ramos denied the Defendants’ motion, finding that they did not meet the requirements for such relief. Specifically, the Court found that Defendants (1) failed to show a strong likelihood of success on the merits based on challenging FHJC expert Dr. Justin Steil’s testimony and relying on inapplicable case law; and (2) did not show that there is an imminent likelihood of irreparable harm – they only referenced hypothetical harms of future rental arrears and a possibility of nonpayment.
In his order, Judge Ramos stated that it is not an uncontroversial point that partial subsidy applicants will be harmed, not helped, by rental discrimination and that “the defendants’ argument that partial subsidy applicants will regret having a place to live due to the potential, hypothetical stress of eviction is wholly implausible.” Judge Ramos reaffirmed his original liability decision and found that the balance of hardships and public interest favor denying the Defendants’ motion for a stay pending appeal.
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision and we look forward to working with Goldfarb Properties to implement the terms of the injunction, including that Goldfarb will not impose minimum income requirements on applicants with vouchers who apply to rent apartments at all of its properties,” said FHJC Legal Coordinator Madhulika Murali.
The Fair Housing Justice Center is represented by Diane L. Houk, David Berman, and Sonya Levitova with the law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel, LLP.
The FHJC’s investigation in this case was supported with funding from a Private Enforcement Initiative (PEI) grant received from the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The mission of the FHJC, a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen fair housing enforcement in the New York City region.