If you believe you have been turned away from an NPS property because of a disability or use of housing subsidies,
please contact Long Island Housing Services at 631.567.5111 ext. 312 or Info@LIFairHousing.org, or
Cohen Milstein's Brian Corman at email@example.com.
On March 22, 2019, Suffolk County residents, as well as fair housing organization Long Island Housing Services (LIHS) and disability rights organization Suffolk Independent Living Organization (SILO), filed a federal class action lawsuit against NPS Property Corporation, a prominent Long Island-area property management company, of intentional, systemic, and rampant housing discrimination on the basis of disability and source of income. The lawsuit alleges that NPS Property Corp. violated the federal Fair Housing Act and the New York State Human Rights Law, both of which bar housing discrimination on the basis of disability and race, as well as Suffolk County Human Rights Law, which forbids discriminatory housing practices on the basis of race, disability or lawful source of income, including income through Social Security and the use of housing subsidy programs.
The lawsuit, building on and amending individual claims brought forth in recent months, alleges that NPS Property Corp. engaged in a pattern of intentional discrimination against prospective renters with disabilities, those with public sources of income, as well as African Americans. In particular, the amended complaint alleges the discriminatory practices targeting applicants with disabilities and those with public sources of income were more widespread than previously known, including policies designed to discourage individuals with disabilities and those who use housing subsidies from applying to live at NPS’s properties. These properties include Holiday Square, Northwood Village, Brightwaters Garden, Lakeside Garden Apartments, East Newbrook Gardens, South Shore Gardens, Normandy Gardens and Monroe Gardens, all in Suffolk County, Long Island.
According to the complaint, Doreen Kernozek, a Suffolk County resident and a named plaintiff in the suit, inquired in November 2016 about an apartment at the NPS-owned Holiday Square complex. Kernozek suffers from a number of debilitating health issues and participates in the Nursing Home Transition and Diversion (NHTD) Medicaid Waiver, a housing subsidy program. The lawsuit alleges that while initially receptive to Kernozek’s application, NPS staff reversed course upon learning of her health status and access to subsidies, asserting she could not be approved for the apartment because she did not meet the unit’s income threshold for renting an apartment at Holiday Square, despite the fact that Kernozek’s income, derived from Social Security, far exceeded the amount she was required to pay towards rent under the NHTD subsidy.
The amended complaint similarly outlines the experiences of Lori Gerardi, another named plaintiff who attempted to apply for an apartment at the NPS-owned South Shore Gardens complex. According to the lawsuit, Gerardi, who has been approved for a Mainstream Program housing subsidy in light of her medical conditions, submitted an application noting her participation in the subsidy program. Despite earning an income that was over three times the portion of the rent that the subsidy required her to pay, the complaint alleges NPS Property Corp. staff told Gerardi that the complex had “reached its quota” for individuals using such subsidies.
In both the case of Ms. Gerardi and Ms. Kerzonek, the suit alleges the company’s application stated it could reject any candidate whose income was not four times the posted monthly rent for an apartment, regardless of the whether or not the applicant used a housing subsidy, effectively discouraging anyone using a housing subsidy from applying for an NPS Property Corp. apartment.
According to the lawsuit, these experiences echo findings by LIHS, a fair housing advocacy organization, and SILO, which administers state-approved grants to improve housing access for individuals with disabilities. These organizations uncovered a wide-reaching pattern of intentional discrimination at NPS-owned properties. The complaint states that on multiple occasions, SILO and LIHS staff were informed by staff at NPS Property Corp.’s Holiday Square complex that it had “reached its quota” for admitting tenants who rely on public assistance related to disabilities.
Furthermore, according to the amended complaint, LIHS’s investigation into NPS Property Corp.’s rental policies found that White applicants at the company’s Northwood Village complex were told about upcoming availabilities and given contact information for property representatives, while Black applicants were routinely informed that no units were available and were directed to a non-functional phone number for further inquiries.
Case Name: Long Island Housing Services, Inc. et al v. NPS Holiday Square LLC et al, Case No. 2:18-cv-03583, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York