A House Divided: Housing Discrimination in New York City
By Michelle Deal Winfield
The Fair Housing Justice Center, FHJC, held a preview of the film “America Divided: A House Divided,” on October 5, 2016 at the School of Visual Arts Theater at 333 West 23rd Street in Manhattan. At the reception, Gene Capello, Esq., President of the, FHJC Board and Board members greeted guests. The world renown Executive Producer, Solly Granatstein spoke freely about his work with Norman Lear, Common, Shola Rimes and the actors participating in the five-part series with eight stories woven to share the inequality in housing, education, healthcare, labor, criminal justice and the political system.
“Discrimination affects us all.” Executive Producer Solly Granatstein
The FHJC, located at 30-30 Northern Boulevard, Suite 302, Long Island City, NY 11101 is a nonprofit civil rights organization, dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination and strengthening enforcement of fair housing laws; celebrates its 11th year.
With the help of FHJC’s investigators, the America Divided team went undercover in New York City to expose the dirty secret: New York City is the 3rd most segregated city in the nation.
The dramatic scenes, showed Norman Lear (white) and L.B. Williams (black), individually requesting apartments in New York City. Both were treated differently during each encounter. Lear was offered an apartment and Williams was graciously told, “There are no apartments available.” The audio and video interactions are used during upcoming litigation, if necessary.
During the question and answer period the divisions within our communities were revealed: New York City’s segregation is due to discrimination in the city. Newly built apartments are quickly bought by foreigners hiding their wealth for sums of 23 million or more for a 4 bedroom apartment. Some landlords have a whites-only policy and others warehouse apartments waiting for the highest bidder. Nicole Hannah-Jones award winning writer from The New York Times, recalled the achievements of Montgomery County, Maryland. In the County, the city required Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, MIH. The plan required every project built consist of housing for low income and middle income residents. Homes built side-by-side were made of the same type of construction materials. The result has been clear: The achievement gap in schools has been reduced among low income residents.
After a landlord is revealed discriminating against an applicant, counsel for FHJC first talk about stopping the practices of which are in violation of fair housing laws. If the practice continues, a case is filed which includes injunctive relief and a settlement agreement. The structure of an agreement to change policies/practices is then supervised by the courts. FHJC has an expert team of lawyers; they have never lost a housing discrimination case.