A New Jersey real estate company settled a discrimination claim and agreed to pay a man $ 30,000 who applied to live in the Ivy Lane apartments in Bergenfield and alleged he was told he would be denied a apartment because he planned to pay with federal Section 8 coupons, the state attorney general’s office said on Friday.
Tower Management Service, LP, which manages the 237-unit apartment complex and approximately 20 other properties in New Jersey and New York, has also agreed to develop a new non-discrimination policy. The company said it would make sure to protect applicants who wish to use rent assistance, such as Section 8 bonds – a federally funded program that pays part of the rent for low-income families. and the elderly and disabled.
Ricardo Moran went to Ivy Lane to ask about renting a one-bedroom unit and alleged that Tower Management said he had to meet a minimum annual income of $ 33,000, which did not keep not account for public aid. Morgan, who has a disability, planned to pay no more than $ 386 out of pocket to cover the monthly rent of $ 995, paying the rest with Section 8 vouchers. He left Ivy Lane without filling out a rental application, according to the documents filed by the court.
“To be eligible for section 8, a person must generally have a very low income, so applying a minimum income requirement regardless of the part of the monthly rent that they will actually be required to pay defeats the purpose of section 8 and could lead to widespread discrimination, ”said Rachel Wainer Apter, director of the Civil Rights Division in the Attorney General’s office.
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Moran filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Division in April 2010.
“It’s been a long process and I’m trying to heal wounds,” said Moran, 61. “$ 30,000 is a drop in the bucket for all the agony and pain they have caused me.”
In June 2019, the division said there was a reasonable basis to believe the company violated New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law if the company said a tenant must meet an income requirement. minimum based on the total monthly rent, not on the fraction that the tenant pays without public assistance.
“Individuals and families who depend on Article 8 housing assistance have just as much right to safe and affordable housing as anyone else,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “Too often, those who seek to pay their rent with government assistance are turned away for no other reason than prejudiced stereotypes. We are committed to providing fair and equal housing opportunities.
River Edge-based Tower Management plans to stress in its new policy that it will not turn down applicants because of files filed in a landlord-tenant court, such as an action that did not result in an eviction, or a judgment over four years. The company would also consider applicants who do not have the level of credit it normally requires if the person is considering using rental assistance.
“But there are many other barriers to fair housing, including landlords categorically rejecting applicants due to previous landlord-tenant action that did not result in eviction, or the rejection of applicants who have a less than perfect credit, even if they’re looking to pay with state or federal housing bonds, ”said Wainer Apter. “This regulation is important because it also encompasses these practices and will increase housing opportunities in New Jersey.”
Tower Management did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. A request for comment on Friday was not immediately returned.
Ashley Balcerzak is a reporter at the New Jersey Statehouse. For unlimited access to his work spanning the New Jersey legislature and political power structure, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.