Interfaith Action Network Monthly
October 2019

Ready, Set, Action
Happy Fall everyone!

As the weather cools, things at the Fair Housing Justice Center are heating up. Here’s a look at some of what we’ve been up to, along with some educational resources, and an invitation to join us in some CRUCIAL advocacy work!
Below are some educational resources we recommend for you to learn more about fair housing.

  • This month’s book recommendation is Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. Following the passage of the Federal Fair Housing Act in 1968, US politicians ended the practice of redlining and promoted policies to induce mortgage lenders and the real estate industry to treat Black homebuyers equally. In assuming the industry’s concerns were merely about profit and not race, Taylor explains, these policies backfired, creating the conditions for renewed forms of discrimination and abuse. Once the federal government began guaranteeing urban mortgages, the new phenomenon of predatory inclusion emerged, specifically targeting those Black buyers most likely to fail to keep up their home payments and slip into foreclosure. The result was increased profits for the lending industry, tens of thousands of foreclosures in Black communities, and new “evidence” for the champions of deregulation to wield against government intervention of any kind. Narrating the story of a sea-change in housing policy and its dire impact on African Americans, Race for Profit reveals how the urban core was transformed into a new frontier of cynical extraction. More from publisher UNC Press HERE.

September saw developments in two major discrimination cases in the Bronx:

  • On September 5th, the FHJC announced the settlement of a race discrimination lawsuit against Charm Equities LTD; its principal officers Howard and Michael Kohn; building superintendent Michael D’Antonio; and owner-entities Highway Realty LLC; and 1723 E 15 LLC. The federal lawsuit, filed in September 2018 by the FHJC and five African American testers, alleged that the defendants racially discriminated against African American prospective renters in violation of federal, state, and local fair housing laws. Read more about the settlement HERE.

  • On September 17th, the FHJC filed a new federal lawsuit alleging disability discrimination in two Bronx buildings known as the Staccato and The Legato, located at 25 Bruckner Boulevard. A testing investigation earlier in the year yielded evidence that defendants Bruckner Tower LLC, Carnegie Management Inc., Karl Fischer Architecture PLLC, and Fischer + Makooi Architects PLLC failed to ensure that the newly constructed housing is accessible to persons with physical disabilities who use wheelchairs. Read more about the lawsuit HERE.
Time to get out and advocate in your community! Below are some advocacy updates and ways that you can get involved.

  • Last month we wrote about the Trump administration’s proposal to undo key provisions of the Fair Housing Act. The proposal involves “disparate impact,” a legal distinction which states that practices and policies that result in discrimination are illegal, even if that discrimination wasn’t directly intentional. If a company - even with the best of intentions - adopts a policy that turns out to have an unequal outcome with a discriminatory effect, they can be sued under the current rule (which was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in 2015.) Unintentional discrimination is still discrimination.

  • But the Department of Housing and Urban Development is proposing changes to the rule that would take away this important tool, effectively gutting disparate impact enforcement. With numerous new requirements for plaintiffs and raised standards for burden of proof, this new rule could be devastating to fair housing efforts. In a time when housing providers are relying more and more on third-party software, “algorithmic discrimination” could become perfectly legal, a huge backwards step in the fight against segregation. (See media coverage HERE and HERE.)

  • The FHJC is joining other members of the National Fair Housing Alliance in an organized effort to save disparate impact and beat back this assault on our civil rights. NFHA has created a website - – where visitors can learn about the issue and leave an official comment during the 60-day public comment period, ending October 18th. (See our official announcement HERE.) There are only a few weeks left to step up and be a part of the fight against this threat to the very foundation of fair housing enforcement. Please take a moment to leave an official comment, and spread the word among your congregations and on social media. Let’s put some ACTION into this Interfaith Action Network!
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:

  • We were thrilled to take part in last month’s Housing Fair at Saint Francis de Sales Church on the Upper East Side. The FHJC joined representatives from NYCHA, Legal Aid Society, Little Sisters of the Assumption and other legal, housing, and charitable organizations in reaching out to church members and local residents with information and support. Thanks to SFDS’s Social Justice Ministry for the invitation – and the wonderful lunch!
  • The FHJC has been invited to participate in a full day anti-bias/anti-violence summit in Staten Island. Communities United for Respect and Trust, an outreach arm of Project Hospitality, will be hosting the summit 1619 – 2019: 400 Years of African American History – How Far Are We from Racial Equality? on Sunday October 20, from 2:30-7:30. The event will include several other workshops, a dramatic reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s The Drum Major Instinct, a Keynote address by Deputy Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights Brittny Saunders, and a free dinner. The event is free, but registration is requested. Click HERE to register and learn more.
  • We previously announced that the FHJC is producing an original theatrical production to shed new light on personal stories of housing discrimination and the fight for justice. In August we introduced playwright Justin Carter. We’re now thrilled to announce our venue will be the Five Angels Theater on West 52nd street in Manhattan. This stunning 156-seat performance space was designed by Fisher Dachs Associates, and since 2010 has been the home of The 52nd Street Project (The Project). Founded in 1981, The Project offers a series of unique mentoring programs that match kids from Hell’s Kitchen between the ages of nine and eighteen with professional theater artists to create and produce original plays. The state-of-the-art venue is also fully ADA accessible, and LEED Gold certified for its environmental friendly facilities. We’re proud to be working at Five Angels Theater, and look forward to seeing you all there in April!
“Every proposed reform, every moral deed, is to be tested by whether and to what extent it contributes to the realization of the Beloved Community"

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