Young Black Professional Alleges Housing Discrimination in Brooklyn

ABlack Harvard graduate says landlords in New York keep denying her an apartment because she is “fiscally irresponsible,” but believes they will not approve her applications because of the color of her skin.

Addy Fahi, 28, who is identified by her middle name, told the Bed-Stuy Patch that despite having a $90,000 salary, a pristine credit score, and no student debt, she continues to be denied from renting apartments in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, and says it is the result of racial discrimination.

"It is so incredibly frustrating as a Black woman to have checked off every box in my career, to literally be 'twice as good' to get half as much in this city," said Fahi. "I did everything you're supposed to do and I can't find a place to live."

Fahi, an education consultant, told the publication that she began having trouble in July when she wanted to move into a two-bedroom of her own in Bed-Stuy or Crown Heights in Brooklyn. She said she was rejected twice from the first apartment she applied to after the landlord told her twice it was hers, but then said someone else got the apartment.

Fahi applied for a second apartment and was told by the apartment managers that getting the apartment was a “sure thing.” The managers then asked Fahi for two years of financial records and six months of bank statements, along with other financial documents, Bed-Stuy Patch reported.

Once Fahi paid the $125 application fee, the managers informed her she “may not be fiscally responsible.” When Fahi asked what the issue was, the managers told Michael Jude, her real estate broker, that she had only five lines of credit when she needed eight to be approved for the apartment. Even though Fahi had never missed a payment on any of her credit lines, the managers would not accept her application.

"That one that made absolutely no sense," Jude told the Bed-Stuy Patch. "I've been in the business in a little and I've never heard of that."

Fahi went through similar incidents with all three lease applications she filed. At the third apartment she applied for, she told the publication that the managers of the building called her work office and asked her supervisor “weird questions.”

"They asked about my behavior, 'Does she work well in groups?'" Fahi said. "They made it feel like I was applying for another job."

Since she began looking for an apartment, Fahi told the Bed-Stuy Patch that she has lost hours away from work, over $500 in application fees, and points off of her credit score. She is currently living on a month-to-month basis at her current apartment now that the lease has lapsed.

This is not the first time she has had issues trying to find a place to live in New York City either. Fahi said she encountered the same problem three years ago.

"I faced a lot of racism when I applied for the apartment that I have now," she told the publication. "I knew this apartment search would be crazy."

Fahi says she is frustrated and believes the real estate market is actively trying to push her out of her neighborhood, according to the Bed-Stuy Patch.

"It's demoralizing... I have every privilege except white privilege," Fahi told the publication. "If it's hard for me, I can't imagine how impossible it must be for other people."

As of August 2019, the average cost of rent in Brooklyn is $2,924 for around a 645 square foot apartment. The average rent for an apartment in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn is $3,025. Many New York City communities have experienced gentrification. Bed-Stuy, which was known as “an African American cultural hub,” is now “home to long-time neighborhood residents and newcomers, young professionals, artists, students, and more,” according to real estate site NakedApartments.com.

Housing is a potent and divisive issue in New York. In April, Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. criticized the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) after the agency evicted a 72-year-old who was in a rehabilitation center recovering from a leg amputation. NYCHA was accused of evicting Bienvenido Martinez, 72, from his apartment at the Union Avenue Consolidation last year after he fell behind on paying his rent. Martinez, who had lived in the building for 14 years, was evicted from his apartment in August 2018.


About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.