COUPLE STEERED AWAY FROM PREDOMINANTLY WHITE BROOKLYN NEIGHBORHOOD
Today, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) announced that a settlement had been reached with the final two defendants Elite Connect Real Estate, Inc. and Ouriel Aryeh In a discrimination lawsuit involving a couple who had attended an open house for a home listed for sale in the predominantly white Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn. The complaint alleged discrimination based on race and religion. The case, Kaseim Tripp, et al. v. Adeline Aryeh, et al., was filed in 2021 in the Eastern District of New York (case no. 21-cv-646).
According to the lawsuit, the couple, Kaseim Tripp, an African-American man and army veteran, and his wife, Kimberly Rosario, an Afro-Puerto Rican woman, were told in front of other prospective buyers who were white, that they “would not be comfortable” in the home because it was in a “Jewish neighborhood.” The lawsuit also alleged that during a follow-up phone call about the property later that evening from Mr. Tripp, Mr. Aryeh continued to attempt to steer the plaintiffs away from Midwood.
Shocked and upset by this blatantly discriminatory treatment, the couple contacted the FHJC for assistance. During subsequent inquiries about the property and Midwood neighborhood, the suit alleged, the couple was again encouraged to consider homes outside of Midwood in neighborhoods near Brooklyn College or in Ditmas Park (Flatbush), which are more racially diverse. Ms. Rosario was also asked if she had children and wanted them to play with neighbors, which the agent admitted was one of the reasons for referring the couple away from Midwood, according to the lawsuit.
Mr. Tripp and Ms. Rosario continued searching for housing, avoiding predominately white neighborhoods for fear of encountering discrimination again, and eventually bought a home in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. More details of the original complaint can be read HERE.
As part of the resolution of the case, the couple has received monetary payments totaling over $50,000.
“We are very pleased with this result. Defendants’ discriminatory conduct violated multiple state, federal, and local statutes, and we were glad to be able help the clients attain a measure of justice and vindicate their rights,” stated attorney Zack Zaharoff, who along with attorneys Blake Denton, Angela Dunay, Faust Petkovich, and Scott Kanchuger represented the plaintiffs. All of the attorneys are with the law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP.
“All home seekers have the right to decide for themselves what makes a neighborhood comfortable or desirable,” added FHJC Executive Director Elizabeth Grossman. “This kind of blatant steering, which has been outlawed for more than 50 years, is a continuing stain on the real estate industry and a major contributor in perpetuating segregation in New York.”
FHJC’s assistance 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 Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws in the New York City region.