Lending a ‘Legal Hand’ Against Discrimination

NYC Commission on Human Rights Specialist Abraham Tejeda leading a workshop. (Photo by William Engel via Kings County Politics

Workshops on legal recourse and protection from various forms of discrimination – against immigrants, or against tenants – are being offered by Legal Hand, a volunteer legal assistance group, to residents in Crown Heights. William Engel, writing in Kings County Politics, covered a recent workshop on housing and sources of income and tenant rights, and the evening of April 11 a workshop on immigrant rights will be held at Legal Hand’s office in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Legal Hand also will be offering workshops on housing financial counseling and foreclosure and predatory mortgages later in the month in Jamaica, Queens.

NYC Commission on Human Rights Specialist Abraham Tejeda led the recent workshop, detailing some of the subtle ways in which landlords may discriminate.

Discrimination, he said, doesn’t always come in the form of landlords refusing to rent to a particular group, or refusing to put in accommodations for disabled tenants. Some landlords may opt to intimidate tenants with threats, or pressure them into leaving by purposely making their living spaces inhospitable.

“An example would be failure to provide heat because of the tenant’s age,” said Tejeda. “If they’re trying to get a senior out of their apartment by failing to provide services, that would be considered tenant harassment.”

Tejeda also noted the legal and regulatory protections offered by the commission, and described what constitutes income when renting housing.

He provided a rundown of all the protected classes covered by NYCCHR regulations, which included race, religion, citizenship status, disability status, and source of lawful income. “Lawful income,” according to Tejeda, includes any form of local, state or federal financial assistance towards the paying of rent, such as SSI, LINC and Section 8 – so landlords must accept rent payments from any of those sources.

Go to Kings County Politics to read about when there may be exemptions to the acceptance of vouchers by landlords, and how Tejeda walked participants through understanding what rules apply and when.

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