JUDGE CALLS OUT “IMPOSSIBLE” SITUATION FOR VOUCHER USERS
On March 17, 2023, Judge Kevin F. Casey of the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings denied a summary judgment motion by respondents Parkchester Preservation Company, LP, and Parkchester Preservation Management LLC to dismiss claims of source of income discrimination brought against them by the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC).
The respondents own and manage the Parkchester housing development in the Bronx, comprising 171 buildings with more than 12,000 housing units including 6,000 rental units. Originally filed by the FHJC in December 2016, the complaint is based on a year-long testing investigation which revealed that the respondents maintained and enforced an income requirement for rental applicants which effectively shut out applicants using subsidies to pay part or all of their rent.
The respondents sought in their motion to preclude the FHJC’s statements of uncontested facts and requested the dismissal of the FHJC’s claim of disparate treatment. Judge Casey denied the requests, stating “…there is direct and circumstantial evidence that respondents discriminated based on source of income. Respondents have not met their burden of demonstrating entitlement to summary judgment on this charge.”
The judge also pointed out the bureaucratic catch-22 that many voucher recipients find themselves in, stating, “There is also evidence that, because there are maximum income limits for voucher programs, it is virtually impossible for an applicant to have low enough income to qualify for a voucher and simultaneously have sufficient income to satisfy respondents’ minimum income requirements.”
“Parkchester is among the City’s largest housing providers,” stated FHJC Executive Director/General Counsel Elizabeth Grossman, “and their unlawful policies deny thousands of qualified New Yorkers access to secure, stable housing, exacerbating the housing crisis. We applaud the judge’s decision in this case.”
“We are looking forward to a full hearing, where we will demonstrate how Parkchester’s minimum income policies cruelly and illegally exclude the very families in our city who need housing the most, even though the government would pay the majority or all of their rent.” stated attorney Vivake Prasad. The FHJC is represented by Mr. Prasad and Diane L. Houk with the law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel, LLP.
The complaint seeks damages and other relief to stop the discrimination at Parkchester and bring the respondents into compliance with fair housing laws.
The mission of the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a regional civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws in the New York City region.