On October 28, 2022, Relman Colfax filed a lawsuit in federal court against iAfford NY, LLC, an affordable housing marketing agent in New York City, on behalf of the Fortune Society, a leading reentry organization. The lawsuit alleges that iAfford implements a practice of excluding applicants with a record of criminal legal involvement. This exclusionary conduct disproportionately excludes applicants of color in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and state and local law.

Fortune Society learned about iAfford’s practices when one of its clients was rejected from an iAfford unit solely on the basis of a prior conviction. Following a months-long investigation, Fortune Society determined that iAfford categorically excludes and/or discourages applicants with a record of criminal legal involvement. This blanket approach flies in the face of fair housing law, including explicit guidance on this topic from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Worse yet, it is entirely unnecessary—the discriminatory impact could be mitigated or eliminated if iAfford provided each applicant with an individualized review.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the Complaint alleges that iAfford’s practice has a disparate impact based on race, color, and/or national origin. The race-based disparities are so profound, and the blanket ban so unnecessary, that iAfford’s practices also give rise to an inference of discriminatory intent.

The lawsuit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent iAfford from continuing this discriminatory practice. It also seeks damages to compensate the Fortune Society for the resources diverted to investigating and counteracting iAfford’s conduct.

The Relman Colfax litigation team includes John Relman, Valerie Comenencia Ortiz, and Lila Miller, with paralegal assistance from Margaret Moran.

A copy of the complaint may be found here.

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