By Bill Parry
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday a complaint has been filed by the State Division of Human Rights on behalf of New York State against the landlord of a Corona apartment building for allegedly discriminating against immigrants.
Residents of a 23-unit building at 95-36 42nd Ave. said they were threatened with eviction and intimidated by landlord Jaideep Reddy after they received letters from him requesting proof of immigration status. A resident brought the letter to the office of state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), who filed a complaint with the office of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
“I was appalled when a constituent came to my office with a letter from a landlord requesting proof of immigration status to his tenants threatening them with eviction if they did not comply,” Peralta said. “As soon as we were alerted to the existence of this unacceptable, racist letter, we immediately notified the state authorities.”
The complaint follows Cuomo’s multi-agency directive in June to investigate landlord policies and practices and potential discrimination against individuals based on their immigration status, national origin, ethnicity or race.
“We are a nation of immigrants, and New York will not stand by while innocent men and women are targeted and discriminated against,” Cuomo said. “Make no mistake: This reprehensible behavior is against the law and against what we stand for as New Yorkers and we will use every avenue to stop this, weed out these bad actors and protect the basic rights of tenants across the state.”
The complaint came after the letter demanded that the tenants, many of whom are immigrants from Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, provide proof of employment, photo identification, Social Security card and a Green Card or passport, or face possible eviction. The complaint was filed by the State Division of Human Rights on its own motion.
In New York, it is illegal to require a tenant to provide immigration status information as a condition to renew a lease. Through a formal enforcement process, New York will seek an order requiring Reddy to cease and desist all discriminatory practices, and require him to pay civil fines and penalties to the state of New York.
Reddy could not be reached for comment.
“I am very glad Gov. Cuomo took action and investigated the case we uncovered, an investigation that led to the filing of a complaint by the State Division of Human Rights against the Corona landlord.,” Peralta said.
“This is clearly a case of housing and immigration discrimination against my constituents, and I am not going to tolerate this kind of inconceivable behavior.”
Tenants in New York seeking information or assistance on discrimination may visit the Governor’s Immigrant Resource Guide, which outlines programs and initiatives designed to support immigrants and their families. In conjunction with the guide, Homes and Community Renewal and the Division of Human Rights have developed an Immigration and Housing Fact Sheet that addresses “Frequently Asked Questions” related to immigration status, housing discrimination, and tenant harassment.
Go to www.ny.gov/
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr