Interfaith Action Network Monthly
April 2021

Ready, Set, Action
April is Fair Housing Month, and all of us at the Fair Housing Justice Center have been hard at work fighting housing discrimination and working to promote open, inclusive, and accessible communities for EVERYONE. Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to, and ways that you can get involved.

Below are some educational resources we recommend for you to learn more about fair housing.
“Drained pool politics.” It’s a term to describe the historic refusal of White communities to share resources with people of color, and it’s the central metaphor in Heather McGhee’s new book "The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together."  How did racial politics become a zero-sum paradigm—the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others? Who has benefited from this toxic ideology? And how do we move past it? These are just some of the questions addressed by the author, an expert in economic and social policy. and the former president of the inequality-focused think tank Demos. In her bestselling book, McGhee takes readers on a deeply personal journey across the country, meeting white people who have suffered as a result of systemic racism and greed. Along the way, she also finds proof of what she calls the Solidarity Dividend: gains that come when people come together across race, to accomplish what we simply can’t do on our own.
Last month, FHJC reached a resolution in a massive disability discrimination case from 2019. The defendants JDS Development LLC; 616 First Avenue LLC; 202 8th LLC; SHoP Architects LLP; Property Markets Group, Inc. (PMG); Werber Management, Inc., and 202 Park Slope LLC were accused of failing to comply with accessibility requirements in the design and construction of two luxury apartment buildings. The settlement calls for extensive retrofits to the common areas and apartments at the American Copper buildings in Manhattan and at the 202 Eighth Street development in Brooklyn. Defendants JDS, SHoP, and PMG also agreed to pay $2.9 million to resolve the case, the largest monetary settlement ever obtained by the FHJC. We’ll be putting some of those funds into supporting our Adele Friedman Housing Accessibility Fund which enables income-eligible persons with disabilities to make reasonable modifications to their existing housing units to make the housing accessible. Read more about the historic settlement HERE.

People with disabilities who seek treatment for addiction in residential facilities face many challenges, but the ability to effectively communicate about their medical treatment should not be one of them. FHJC recently filed two new federal lawsuits alleging disability discrimination by operators of residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation residences located in New York. The lawsuits allege that Defendants Odyssey House, Inc.; Phoenix Houses of New York, Inc; Arms Acres, Inc.; and Liberty Management Group, Inc refused to provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter services and declined to give Deaf persons access to their residential recovery facilities. The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers – including operators of rehabilitation residences – to make reasonable accommodations to rules, policies and services in order to afford people with disabilities an equal opportunity for the use and enjoyment of their housing. This includes providing ASL interpreters to Deaf or Hard of Hearing persons. But undercover testers from the FHJC were told repeatedly that the facilities would not provide interpreters, that the facilities would not be able to accommodate persons who speak sign language, and to look into other drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities that may be willing and able to accommodate their deaf relatives. In addition to the Fair Housing Act, the lawsuits allege that the operators are violating the Rehabilitation Act, the Affordable Care Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. Read more about the case HERE.

Time to get out and advocate in your community! Below are some advocacy updates and ways that you can get involved.
The FHJC has a three-part mission: to eliminate housing discrimination; to promote polices that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and to strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws. But what are the legal and policy changes that can make all that happen? The Policy Committee of FHJC’s Board recently updated and clarified our policy priorities with specific goals and recommendations. The list comprises a wide range of ideas, including increased testing, a new co-op disclosure law, and the creation of a statewide zoning appeals board. Click HERE to read a summary of current policy initiatives. To read or download the complete policy statement, click HERE.
Criminal legal system reform is one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our day, including a housing crisis for people and families impacted by the criminal legal system. People with a conviction record and/or history of criminal legal system involvement often struggle with housing discrimination, income instability, family reunification, and a need for employment services. These challenges disproportionately affect Black and brown individuals. If you are passionate about this issue and want to learn more, Enterprise Community Partners, in partnership with the FHJC and other organizations, has created a course - Housing People Impacted by the Criminal Legal System: A Training for Housing Providers. The course is tailored to housing providers and agencies, landlords, and organizations looking to support housing opportunities for residents impacted by the criminal legal system in their buildings. Ten to fifteen individuals representing a range of housing organizations will be selected to participate in the 11-session course, running from May through December. Enterprise strongly encourages representation from affordable housing developers, management companies, faith-based organizations, and service providers. Throughout the course, participants will learn about the barriers that people with conviction face and solutions to successfully house and support this population. Participants will participate in virtual site visits and will be part of a cohort of organizations working to implement the curriculum's learnings into their work. The application deadline is April 16, 2021, at 11:59 PM. Click HERE to learn more and to apply. For more information, contact Michelle Mulcahy at
Building the Beloved Community

Want to get involved in the Building the Beloved Community interfaith initiative in some other way? Below are some updates from our interfaith initiative:
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” It’s one of the most famous quotes from scripture, and its meaning has been debated for centuries. But for many people of faith, the phrase is a reminder of the importance of looking out for one another, brothers and sisters alike. In this spirit, the FHJC is proud to unveil our new social media ad campaign, “Together We Can End Housing Discrimination,” aimed at enlisting allies in the fight to end housing discrimination in the New York region. Unlike most fair housing outreach designed to reach direct victims, the new campaign will be directed at people who have credible information about discriminatory policies and practices, urging them to come forward and report what they know.
Real estate workers who overhear their colleagues’ discriminatory comments, condo owners who learn that their condo board excludes certain populations, or leasing agents who are told to screen out certain applicants. These and other similar scenarios are depicted in the new ads — examples of people who know that illegal discrimination is occurring, but are unsure of what to do about it. Clicking the ads directs viewers to a special landing page where information can be reported to the FHJC, potentially leading to further investigation and even legal action. At a time of increased awareness of housing discrimination and its harmful long-term effects, the campaign will provide an outlet for those seeking to become allies in the fight for social justice, as we work to build the beloved community.
“The proof that one truly believes is in action.”
  • - Bayard Rustin

Fair Housing Justice Center | 30-30 Northern Blvd., Suite 302, Long Island City, NY 11101
| (212) 400 - 8201 | (212) 400 - 8203 |