Real Estate Company Settles Discrimination Case: Pays Damages for Denying Housing to Low-Income Renters and Section 8 Housing Voucher Recipients

In a significant development, a Westchester-based real estate company, Platzner International Group, is set to pay $105,000 in damages for denying housing to low-income renters and violating federal, state, and local laws. This case highlights the challenges low-income individuals face in securing housing and the importance of fair housing laws in protecting the rights of all citizens, including Section 8 Housing voucher recipients. This article delves into the details of the case and the implications for both the company and the low-income residents it impacted.

The Discrimination Allegations

The New York Attorney General’s Office recently announced that Platzner International Group, owned by Merrick and Harrin Platzner, engaged in discriminatory practices by denying housing to low-income residents in Westchester, including those with Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers. Section 8 vouchers are vital for many low-income individuals, including Section 8 housing voucher recipients, to afford safe and stable housing. Denying them the opportunity to use these vouchers is a breach of federal, state, and local fair housing laws, with particular ramifications for Section 8 housing recipients.

The Investigation

The Attorney General’s Office initiated an investigation in 2021 after the Housing Rights Initiative conducted undercover testing that revealed Platzner’s discriminatory policies. Online apartment listings from Platzner entities included explicit statements like “Sorry, NO Section 8.” Furthermore, representatives from the Housing Rights Initiative were told that the firm “does not take Section 8” at one of its buildings. The investigation uncovered additional violations, such as the firm asking illegal questions about prospective tenants’ sex and marital status on rental applications. The company’s application fee was also found to be higher than the state-mandated $20, impacting Section 8 housing voucher recipients.

The Legal Consequences

Attorney General Letitia James expressed her concern, emphasizing that every New Yorker, regardless of their income, deserves a place to live, including Section 8 housing voucher recipients. Denying housing opportunities to low-income individuals with housing vouchers not only violates the law but also exacerbates the affordable housing crisis, affecting Section 8 recipients. Platzner International Group has entered into an agreement with the Attorney General’s Office, agreeing to pay $10,000 in damages to the Housing Rights Initiative and $95,000 to Westchester Residential Opportunities as part of a separate settlement, benefitting Section 8 housing recipients.

Anti-Discrimination Policy and Remedies

As part of the agreement, the company will implement an anti-discrimination policy that adheres to federal, state, and local housing laws. One of the significant changes is the commitment to mention in all rental listings that Section 8 vouchers will be accepted, ensuring greater access to housing for Section 8 housing voucher recipients. To rectify the harm caused, Platzner International Group will also set aside 20 units for tenants holding government housing subsidies, providing much-needed housing opportunities for Section 8 voucher recipients.

Community Response

The agreement has received praise from housing advocates, with Aaron Carr, the founder of Housing Rights Initiative, commending Attorney General James and her team for proactively enforcing anti-discrimination laws and holding brokers and landlords accountable. Housing enforcement plays a crucial role in ensuring that low-income families, including Section 8 housing voucher recipients, can use their housing vouchers and avoid homelessness. This case sets a precedent for the protection of the housing rights of low-income individuals and the promotion of fair housing practices in the real estate industry, benefiting Section 8 recipients and all low-income renters.

Conclusion

The case against Platzner International Group serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding fair housing laws and combating discrimination in the housing market, particularly for Section 8 housing voucher recipients. Discriminatory practices that deny housing opportunities to low-income renters, including Section 8 voucher recipients, not only infringe on their rights but also contribute to the affordable housing crisis. The legal action taken against the real estate company reinforces the commitment to ensuring that every individual, regardless of their income and including Section 8 housing voucher recipients, has the right to access safe and affordable housing. The outcome of this case sends a strong message to other companies and landlords that discrimination in housing will not be tolerated, and violators will be held accountable, benefiting Section 8 housing voucher recipients and all low-income renters.

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