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CUOMO SAYS $100,000 SETTLEMENT OF SUIT AGAINST NYC LANDLORD SHOWS HUD HAS ZERO TOLERANCE OF ILLEGAL HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said today a New York City landlord's payment of $100,000 to settle a housing discrimination lawsuit shows HUD has zero tolerance of such discrimination.
"We are relentless in our pursuit of those who violate the legal right of people to live wherever their hard work will take them," Cuomo said. "HUD has zero tolerance of illegal housing discrimination."
The HUD-funded Open Housing Center in New York City reached the $100,000 settlement in a lawsuit against Queens landlords Henry Bosio and his daughter, Mary Jo Pelletieri. The suit accused the two of violations of fair housing laws, based on the result of an Open Housing Center investigation.
The suit was filed by Jerryl Bell, who is black. Under the settlement, Bosio agreed to pay Bell $65,00 and to pay the Open Housing Center $35,000.
Bell said that when he called Bosio in response to a newspaper ad for a studio apartment, Bosio asked his race. On learning that Bell was black, Bosio allegedly replied: "We're only looking for white applicants."
The Open Housing Center investigated a complaint against Bosio filed by Bell by having black and white testers call Bosio to ask about apartments.
"When testers called, Mr. Bosio asked them if they were black or white," said Michelle Lee, Testing Coordinator for Open Housing Center. "He refused to show apartments to black testers, while he courted white testers and showed them apartments."
The Open Housing Center is part of a nationwide network of a private non-profit fair housing groups funded by HUD.
In addition to investigating allegations of housing discrimination, fair housing groups provide counseling and legal assistance to consumers and education to the housing industry.
"Testing is our most effective tool for uncovering illegal housing discrimination," Cuomo said. "We will continue to support testing programs throughout the country so we can catch discriminators in the act and bring them to justice."
In 1996 HUD provided $12 million to support fair housing enforcement by private fair housing groups.
Cuomo has pledged to double HUD's enforcement actions to fight housing discrimination. Under one program announced this summer, HUD is working with the Department of Agriculture to wipe out housing discrimination in rural areas. Under another new program, HUD is working with the National Urban League to fight housing discrimination and promote minority homeownership.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009