Lawsuit accuses Midwood landlord of refusing African-American tenants

Brooklyn Paper
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A Brooklyn landlord won’t rent apartments to African-American tenants at a “Jewish building” in Midwood, a new lawsuit claims.

The Fair Housing Justice Center — a nonprofit civil rights organization — filed the suit in Federal Court on July 17, alleging that real estate honcho Zev Pollak systematically refuses to lease apartments to non-white tenants at his 48-unit apartment building at 1411 Avenue N between E. 14th and E. 15th streets.

Census bureau statistics from 2010 shows that the African-American population in that section of the neighborhood accounts for less than 2 percent of the area’s population, according to the center.

The organization claims they ran four sting operations, in which they sent several people — some white, some black, but all with similar socio-economic characteristics — to the apartment posing as prospective renters, and found vastly different results based on their skin color.

The investigations began in September 2016, when the building superintendent Eldina Balic allegedly allowed a white man to tour two vacant apartments and claimed they were available for rent, only to deny any vacancies to an African-American man the following day, according to the lawsuit.

The day after that, Balic allegedly allowed a second white “tester” to tour the same vacant apartments — in addition to providing him with rental applications. On this occasion, Pollak met the supposed renter and encouraged him to apply to the “Jewish building,” which was filled with “good” and “stable” tenants, located in a “quiet and safe neighborho­od,” according to court documents.

The three other sting operations outlined in the lawsuit depict similar results. The most recent sting operation came last February, when Pollack allegedly told an African-American man that there was “nothing available” — despite allowing two white operatives for the Justice Center to tour the same vacant apartment before and after that denial, according to the lawsuit.

The Justice Center’s leader said discriminatory practices like the ones Pollak allegedly engaged in are responsible for promoting racial segregation, which continues to infect the borough.

“Residential racial segregation is not, and never has been, a matter of choice. It was created and is now perpetuated by intentional discriminatory housing practices like those documented in our complaint,” said Fred Freiberg, who heads up the Fair Housing Justice Center as executive director. “It is beyond vexing that a real estate broker, licensed by the State of New York, is directly involved in making housing unavailable to people based on race.”

Pollack’s real estate company — Zev Pollak Co LLC — did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at
Updated 8:29 am, July 22, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Bkmanhatman from Nubrooklyn says:
We now have a face and name to after the real estate people.
July 22, 2019, 8:48 am
Somebody from Somewhere says:
What else is new?
July 22, 2019, 9:53 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
What else is... aw man, someone beat me to it. ... "Like he's the only one" There, that works too I think.
July 22, 2019, 10:06 am
Chuck Schumer from Park Slope says:
The goyim could move to Staten Island, Zev is a pious man, a real mensch. Mazel tov!
July 22, 2019, 10:44 am
Jeffrey Epstein from Midwood says:
Welcome to the building, new neighbors!
July 22, 2019, 11:11 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Probably one of Henry Fecalstink's friends.
July 22, 2019, 3:46 pm
ellen from Brooklyn Heights says:
not appropriate or funny
July 22, 2019, 4:15 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
It's appropriate and very funny.
July 22, 2019, 4:24 pm
Portia from Brooklyn Heights says:
Seems Ellen’s a bit uptight, poor thing
July 22, 2019, 4:51 pm
Max from Manhattan Beach says:
If you own the building, you should be allowed to decide to whom you want to rent. Facebook is allowed to delete posts they don't think fit their agenda, so do all other businesses (YouTube, etc.) There is no difference here ... only the fact that it doesn't fit the Left's agenda.
July 22, 2019, 5:22 pm
Major Mark Zist from The Left says:
Very true Max, very true. We need sting operations at YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, CNN and the NYTimes. Would love to see some of the biased decision-making that goes on there. And let’s throw in Nike just for fun.
July 22, 2019, 6:15 pm
Someone who is educated says:
What the stupid snowflakes don't understand is that in America it is against the law to discriminate someone because of religion, race, sexual orientation/identity, or disabilities. Sorry stupid snowflakes, your hatred is not protected. GFYS, bigots!
July 22, 2019, 6:47 pm
Felicia from Flatbush says:
None of them are “Africa” Americans. They’ve never even been to Africa. Probably couldn’t even find it on the map.
July 22, 2019, 7:41 pm
OJ says:
So Henry (someone who is educated, lol) if an orthodox Jewish family living in a two family home put up an ad for a tenant in the 2nd unit and a Palestinian family with hijabs wanted to live there you think they should be required to rent to them if they did not feel comfortable?
July 22, 2019, 8:25 pm
NPC from Zombie land says:
Racist, racist, racist Orange Man Bad Impeach, impeach Russia, Russia, Russia My body my choice! No KKK, no fascist USA! Refugees welcome No human is illegal Collusion, obstruction, voter suppression! Orange Man very bad Homophobe! Islamophobe! Xenophobia! Transphobe! Misogynist! Bigot! Literally Hitler! Ripping children from their mothers arms, children in cages, Nazi concentration camps! Orange Man very very bad Believe all women P++sy grabber! No justice no peace! Antifa! Love trumps hate! LGBTQIAEIEIO
July 23, 2019, 6:58 am
Someone who is educated says:
Poor right wing snowflakes, so easily triggered. Not very smart either, Mueller never said no obstruction he said "if trump DID NOT commit obstruction, we would have said so". I know, word can be hard for the inept.
July 23, 2019, 7:06 am
Someone who is educated says:
I really don't know what I think I know and I don't know what I don't know.
July 23, 2019, 8:09 am
Benny from Park Slope says:
Pollak and Balic acting scummy, greedy, and textbook racist? I am shocked. Shocked!
July 23, 2019, 8:14 am
Penelope from Park Slope says:
I mean, it sounds wrong, but the fake renters could always just move into a housing project or something? Like the cheap buildings which white people aren’t allowed to live in
July 23, 2019, 8:16 am
Benny from Park Slope says:
"If you own the building, you should be allowed to decide to whom you want to rent." Poor Max, with his third-grader's understanding of long-settled and constitutionally-backed federal, state, and local law. "It's my ball. Mine! I wanna play dodge ball. Mine! Mine!"
July 23, 2019, 8:21 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
So, can white Christians move in?
July 23, 2019, 8:30 am
Benny from Park Slope says:
Fringe-right snowflakes -- *especially* those who cloak themselves in religion -- always pretend to support "individual freedom" until they're on the receiving end of someone else exercising their own freedoms.
July 23, 2019, 8:32 am
Benny from Park Slope says:
Can atheists move in? Wiccans? Satanists? Zoroastrians? Followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?
July 23, 2019, 8:33 am
Jerome Krase from park slope says:
since everyone knows biased rentals is commonplace, we must ask why it is so prevalent. the most responsible are not the landlords but those who allow them to do it --- our elected officials.
July 23, 2019, 8:44 am
Benny from Park Slope says:
Jerome, I agree that bias in rentals is commonplace -- but elected officials are only part of the problem. The Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement and Neighborhood Services in HPD (not an elected official) and other appointees have to be MUCH tougher with scumbag landlords/slumlords. In the end, though, the most responsible *are* the landlords. They're the lowlifes breaking the law. They're the ones who should be in jail, or paying enormous fines (or both).
July 23, 2019, 8:54 am
Bob from Gerritsen Beach says:
Benny from Park Slope, you're right it is the landlords that are abusing the laws but its the politicians who don't enforce the laws because of these landlord's huge clout in this city that allows them to get away with this discrimination. The only reason you know about this particular incident is because it hit the newspapers and then the politicians come out with their standard "Outrage This Is Happening " speech and then back to what seens to be normal in this city. It is virtually impossible for a tenet to find out who actually owns the building because all their corporate addresses, in this part of the city anyway, have a P.O. Box someplace in Borough Park.
July 23, 2019, 1:13 pm
Ms. Me. from Bay Ridge says:
Stores aren't open on Saturday. I don't want to live around there anyway.
July 23, 2019, 4:49 pm

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