West Seneca Apartments Named In Discrimination Suit

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a lawsuit alleging discriminatory practices by the owners of a Western New York apartment complex.

The lawsuit against the owners of the Royal York Gardens Apartments in West Seneca alleges violations of state and federal housing laws. The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting future discriminatory conduct.

"It is unfair and illegal to systematically exclude people from living in an apartment complex based on their race or color," Spitzer said. "Such practices perpetuate segregated housing and deprive persons of all races of the chance to live in integrated communities with better schools, employment prospects and public services."

Earlier this year, Spitzer’s office supervised a series of tests conducted by Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), a non-profit organization that focuses on ensuring fair and equal access to housing in the Western New York area. In each test, a white tester and a black tester went to the complex and expressed interest in renting an apartment. The paired testers were provided with comparable financial profiles so that they would be viewed as equally qualified to rent. Spitzer’s office then compared how the real estate agents treated each of the paired testers.

The tests revealed that the Royal York rental agent consistently treated the minority testers differently. The discriminatory practices included refusing to show blacks apartments that were shown to whites; denying the availability of apartments to blacks while telling whites that such apartments were available; failing to provide blacks with full and complete information about the availability of apartments; and encouraging whites to rent apartments while not providing the same encouragement to blacks.

Prior to filing the lawsuit, the Attorney General’s office contacted Royal York in an effort to resolve this matter without litigation, but these efforts were unsuccessful.

As part of an ongoing effort to fair housing laws, the Attorney General’s office recently obtained consent decrees involving two Westchester real estate brokerage agencies alleged to have discriminated on the basis of race and ethnicity against individuals seeking to rent apartments in primarily white Westchester neighborhoods. The consent decrees require the agencies and their employees to undergo training and maintain records which will be used to test their compliance with federal, state, and local fair housing laws in the provision of brokerage services.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Buffalo, names Royal York Liberatore Family Limited Partnership as the owner of the 250-unit apartment complex.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jeffrey K. Powell and Lourdes M. Ventura of the Civil Rights Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Natalie R. Williams and Bureau Chief Dennis D. Parker.