Interfaith Action Network Monthly
August 2019

Ready, Set, Action
Last month, the nation and the entire world paused to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Coming just one year after the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the moon landing – and Neil Armstrong’s historic quote – can still inspire those of us in the fair housing community. Working together, taking many “small steps,” our combined efforts can lead to a “giant leap” in the fight against housing discrimination.

Check out the latest updates below, and learn more about some upcoming opportunities to further engage with this important work.
Below are some educational resources we recommend for you to learn more about fair housing.

  • It’s been a whirlwind month at the FHJC, including the announcements of a major new lawsuit in Brooklyn and a settlement in Westchester.

  • On July 17th, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and five African American testers filed a lawsuit in federal district court (EDNY) alleging that ZP Realty Capital LLC; 1411 Apt. LLC; landlord and broker Zev Pollak; and building superintendent Eldina Balic are discriminating against African American prospective renters in violation of local, state, and federal fair housing laws. Read more about the case HERE. (And check out the impressive press coverage HERE, HERE, and HERE.) 

  • On July 10th, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) announced a settlement that resolves a fair housing lawsuit filed against Westchester landlord New Property Associates LLC, management company Active Management Inc., and a building superintendent. The federal lawsuit, filed in September 2018 by the FHJC and three African American testers, alleged that the defendants racially discriminated against African American prospective renters. Learn more details of the settlement HERE.

  • Since the subject of court-ordered busing in the 70’s and 80’s came up during the Democratic presidential debates, the history of desegregation efforts in the US has been a hot topic in the press and among fair housing advocates. While magnet schools, increased funding, and “compensatory education” programs target the effects of poverty and school segregation, more and more experts are asserting the importance of integrating neighborhoods and school districts to prevent schools from becoming segregated in the first place. It’s been said many times before and bears repeating: It all comes down to housing. A recent article in the Atlantic details the history of effective integration efforts in the aftermath of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act, and the subsequent backsliding when politicians (of BOTH parties) failed to follow up with strong enforcement. The authors also offer several proposals for addressing segregation in our current turbulent political environment. Check it out HERE.

  • Speaking of those Democratic debates, here’s an interesting New York Times column arguing that support for busing is not the appropriate question for addressing the state of segregation today. And here’s a guide from the Poverty and Race Research Action Council to each of the Democratic candidate’s positions on fair and affordable housing issues. Here’s hoping that housing segregation finds its way onto the list of hot topics during what promises to be a contentious election season!

  • This month’s book recommendation is a book AND a documentary. Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation—that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation—the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments—that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day. Learn more about the book HERE.

  • If you’re a little pressed for time (or if you prefer your history and policy discussions come with interesting graphics and animation) click HERE to check out “Segregated by Design,” an 18-minute documentary inspired by Rothstein’s book and narrated by him. Directed and animated by Mark Lopez, the film is an official selection of the American Documentary Film Festival and a Vimeo Staff Pick.
Time to get out and advocate in your community! Below are some advocacy updates and ways that you can get involved.

  • The film’s website also has links for sharing on social media, and invitations to host a screening. Hosting a film screening happens to be Way #13 of our 30 Ways You Can Advance Fair Housing, part of our Fair Housing Toolkit. Click HERE to view the whole list, and start advocating today! 

  • Advocacy doesn’t only mean sweeping organized action to change laws combat entire institutions. Housing discrimination comes in many varieties, and although large cases involving race, ethnicity and gender often attract the biggest headlines, we shouldn’t overlook smaller stories of individual acts of courage, sometimes involving people with disabilities and their service animals. Last month HUD announced a settlement in a case from Edgewater NJ. The suit alleged that a woman with hearing and sight disabilities was required by her landlord to cage her assistance dog in her building’s common areas and to use a separate service entrance. When the landlord refused to grant the woman and her 75 lb dog a reasonable accommodation (as required by fair housing laws) she contacted HUD and ultimately prevailed. Read more about the case HERE.
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:

  • On Saturday, September 21st (1-4pm) the Social Justice Ministry of St. Francis de Sales Church will hold its second annual housing fair. The FHJC is proud to be participating for the second year in a row, joining various other agencies and businesses to provide information on fair housing, affordable housing, the NYC housing lottery, home sharing programs, credit counseling and repair, NYC homeownership, tenant rights, and other concerns. The church is located in Manhattan on East 96th Street where the "Upper East side meets East Harlem." Click HERE to visit their website. Hope to see you there!

  • Last month we announced our upcoming original theatrical production the Fair Housing Monologues Project. This month we are thrilled to introduce the playwright, Justin Carter. Justin studied writing under his mentor Bill Duke (Hoodlum, Deep Cover, Sister Act 2), where he quickly rose to become head of writing and development for his production company. Later, he collaborated with writers like Aaron Thomas (Sleepy Hollow, Friday Night Lights, SWAT), Pat Cirillo (Tears of the Sun), and Bayard Johnson (The Second Jungle Book) on various projects. In Brooklyn, Justin launched a community service program utilizing his original writings to teach Black History through artistic expression. As an actor, Justin performed in the Obie Award nominated revival of Amiri Baraka's Dutchman at the Cherry Lane Theatre. He recurred on ABC’s Life On Mars, FOX’s Gotham, and the award winning digital series Breaking & Entering which he created, wrote, and produced. A graduate of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade writing program, he was named one of NBC’s Writers On The Verge. His writing won awards at the Hollyweb Film Festival and the Pen International Festival, and he was recently a finalist for the Made In NY Writers Room and a semi-finalist for the PAGE International Awards. Additionally, Justin has been associated with the FHJC for many years in various aspects of the fight against housing discrimination, and brings a unique insider’s perspective to the piece. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting new project!
“Our ultimate end must be the creation of the beloved community.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1960
Fair Housing Justice Center | 30-30 Northern Blvd., Suite 302, Long Island City, NY 11101
| (212) 400 - 8201 | (212) 400 - 8203 |