On October 30, 2014, The Fortune Society, a non-profit organization that provides temporary and permanent housing to hundreds of formerly incarcerated individuals each year filed this suit in the U.S. District for Eastern District of New York. The organization, represented by Relman Colfax, sued Sandcastle Towers Housing Development Fund Corp under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and New York law, alleging that in the summer of 2013 and early 2014, Fortune tried to rent apartments for its clients at Sandcastle, a multi-building apartment complex that the defendants own and manage in Queens, New York. When defendants learned that Fortune was seeking housing for the formerly incarcerated individuals it serves, they refused to rent apartments per the defendants' policy prohibiting anyone with a criminal record from renting an apartment or living at Sandcastle. This ban, Fortune alleged, was discriminatory and had an unlawful disparate impact on the basis of race and color.
On July 3, 2019, the Court issued an opinion denying Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ disparate impact claim and allowing that claim to proceed to trial.
The case was then settled in October 2019 with Sandcastle’s owners agreeing to pay $1,187,500. It is one of the largest settlements in a case challenging a ban on renting to people with criminal records, if not the very largest. The owners have sold the building and do not currently own or rent real estate.
The Fortune Society, Inc. v. Sandcastle Towers Housing Development Fund, Inc., No. 1:14-cv-6410 (E.D.N.Y.)
388 F. Supp. 3d 145 (E.D.N.Y. 2019)
News & Updates
In the Media
- Fortune’s Fate: Landmark $1.1875 million settlement reached in civil rights suit / El destino de Fortune: Trascendental acuerdo de $1,1875 millones de dólares alcanzado en demanda de derechos civilesManhattan Times, 11.13.2019
- New York Daily News, 11.05.2019
- Staten Island Advance, 11.05.2019
- Wall Street Journal, 04.04.2016
- New York Times, 10.30.2014