Interfaith Action Network Monthly
September 2020

Ready, Set, Action
It’s been a long hot summer of public health horrors, election-year turmoil and intense social unrest as America confronts the reality of systemic racism. As a sweltering July and August give way to September, we at the Fair Housing Justice Center send our best wishes to our friends and supporters for your health and safety. We hope everyone is able to find some quiet moments of peace, light, and even hope in the middle of this extraordinarily troubled time.
Below are some educational resources we recommend for you to learn more about fair housing.
This month’s book recommendation is “When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century” by Columbia University Interim Provost and Political Science Professor Ira Katznelson. The book reexamines twentieth-century American history, demonstrating how social welfare programs of the 30s and 40s widened the gap between blacks and whites due to the discriminatory way they were designed and implemented. Originally published in 2006, the book has recently been cited in several recommended antiracism reading lists. Read more about this remarkable book HERE.
A discrimination lawsuit involving a 2018 FHJC investigation was recently settled in New York County Supreme Court. FHJC performed its investigation after learning that 165 Sherman Avenue, L.L.C., PMG Real Estate Corp. and real estate broker Pablo M. Garcia refused to do business with a Mr. Campbell after he stated he would be using a subsidy from the New York City HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) to pay his rent. The settlement agreement included a payment of $207,500 as well as injunctive relief. Read more about the settlement HERE.
Like many of you who have been fortunate enough to maintain your jobs during the pandemic, most of the FHJC staff have been working remotely from home. But that hasn’t stopped us from “attending” events and seminars aimed at continuing the fight for fair housing. In July, the St. John’s Law School Student Chapter of the National Association of Consumer Advocates sponsored an online discussion titled Racism, Renting, and Redlining: A Conversation on Housing Discrimination & Its Impact on Economic Injustice. Participants included FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg and Board Member and former tester Lisa Darden. In August, Legal Director Marie Winfield and Community Engagement Coordinator Craig Waletzko joined Freiberg in welcoming students from CUNY School of Law as part of their orientation dedicated to community service.
Also in August, the The Baltimore Office of Equity and Civil Rights’s first ever Fair Housing Film Festival featured two FHJC-involved documentaries, each followed by virtual discussion panels. Waletzko participated in the discussion of A Matter of Place along with FHJC Board Member Michelle Sullivan-Brady, who also appears in the film. Brick by Brick, featuring Board Member and former Chair Gene Capello was followed by a panel including Capello and Producer/Director William Kavanagh.
Sales, rentals, lending, advertising… Where else does housing discrimination hide? Civil rights advocates are beginning to call attention to the appraisal process. The subjective nature of home appraisals makes discrimination difficult to identify, and contributes to ongoing inequality This article in the New York Times tells the story of a mixed race family in Florida whose home originally appraised significantly lower than other similar homes in their neighborhood. After removing family photos and other signs of Blackness, a second appraisal came in 40% higher. The National Association of REALTORS® also made discrimination a central focus of their annual Appraisal Summit in August. Click HERE to read the article and learn more about the challenge of rooting out discrimination in home appraisals.
Time to get out and advocate your community! Below are some advocacy updates and ways that you can get involved.
The most important act of advocacy is to VOTE! With pandemic concerns and looming postal service issues, voting this year will be more complicated than usual. Information on registration, absentee ballot requests, mail-in ballots, and specific deadlines can all be found at The content is arranged in a clickable state-by-state breakdown for easy access to your local personalized information. Not sure if you’re registered? Think you know where your polling place is? Need to see your alternatives to in-person voting? Don’t wait until the fall, when deadlines might have passed. Check out and make your plan today!
And while we’re on the subject of making your voice heard in Washington, have you filled out your Census form for 2020? The pandemic is wreaking havoc there too, creating the very real possibility of a record-breaking undercount, especially in communities of color. For more details on the issue, check out FHJC Policy Coordinator Britny McKenzie’s piece on the importance of the Census HERE. And take the Census today at
McKenzie and Freiberg also recently made the pages of the New York Daily News with their op-ed about the need for disclosure rules in the sale of co-op apartments. There are roughly 300,000 co-op apartments in New York City, and while they are technically required to follow fair housing laws, there is no legal obligation to provide a reason for rejecting an application. This lack of transparency makes it difficult to prove illegal discrimination and allows co-ops to perpetuate an exclusive “members only” culture where only “the right kind of people” are allowed entry. The FHJC is calling for a written reason of denial to be included in a bill currently before the state legislature. Click HERE to read the op-ed, and stay tuned for info on how to join us in advocating for this important change.
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:
The recent shooting by the police of Jacob Blake in Kenosha Wisconsin has sparked outrage and protest across the country. Blake’s hometown church, Ebeneezer AME Church in Evanston IL, recently hosted an outdoor gathering to mark the one week anniversary of the shooting, and to call for action. Members of Blake’s family have served as ministers in the AME Church for four generations. His grandfather, also named Jacob, served as Ebeneezer AME’s pastor in the 60’s and 70’s and helped lead the fight for fair housing in Evanston. Click HERE to read the AME Church’s statement on the shooting. The FHJC continues to stand in solidarity with all those around the world who protest for racial justice. Click HERE to read our statement of support for Black Lives Matter.
President Trump recently rescinded the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which ties federal housing funds to a jurisdiction’s duty to assess patterns of housing discrimination and create a plan to counteract them. Civil rights organizations all over the country have protested this rule change. When it was first proposed last year, FHJC participated in the advocacy campaign to drive comments to the federal register. Now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Charities have issued a statement in response to the rule’s termination. Click HERE to read the statement and learn more about USCCB’s history of calling for “effective programs to remedy past injustice.”
“We've come a long way, but we still have a distance to go before all of our citizens embrace the idea of a truly interracial democracy, what I like to call the Beloved Community, a nation at peace with itself.”

- John Lewis
Fair Housing Justice Center | 30-30 Northern Blvd., Suite 302, Long Island City, NY 11101
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