A Farmingdale senior apartment complex has agreed to pay $35,000 to settle charges that it discriminated against prospective renters who are African-American, a nonprofit fair housing group said this week.
Farmingdale Villas LLC, which owns the 266-unit, 55-and-older Farmingdale Villas complex on Genova Court, agreed to create a $10,000 compensation fund for would-be renters who have been denied housing at the complex due to discrimination, and to pay $25,000 to fund fair-housing enforcement and education programs run by Long Island Housing Services, the Bohemia-based group said Monday.
The company agreed to advertise the compensation fund in Farmingdale publications, create a non-discrimination policy and provide fair-housing training to its employees.
Michael Mason, an attorney for Farmingdale Villas, said the company has created and advertised the fund but it has not received any applications for compensation. Mason said the complex’s population is 8.65% African-American, and the surrounding South Farmingdale community’s population is 3.2% African-American.
The company did not admit to any wrongdoing, he said. The settlement “was an effort to resolve the matter and move on,” he said.
The agreement, approved last month by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, resolves charges that employees of the complex discriminated against African-American prospective renters.
Ian Wilder, executive director of Long Island Housing Services, said the group sent pairs of prospective renters – with equivalent qualifications but different races – to the complex on four occasions last year. He said the African-American applicants were told there were no available apartments and a long waiting list, while the white applicants were told several units would be available soon.
Employees at Farmingdale Villas “had knowledge of upcoming units, but chose not to inform the African-American testers…[and] dissuaded them from even signing up on the waiting list,” Wilder said. Discriminatory acts such as those can unfairly deny people access to the communities, jobs and schools they favor, Wilder said. “Racism affects the quality of people’s lives in every way you can imagine,” he said.
Leonard Genova, the former Oyster Bay town attorney and deputy supervisor, was named as a defendant in the settlement along with Farmingdale Villas. He is listed as the contact person in the company's most recent statement filed with the New York Department of State in January.
Genova said he used to have an ownership stake and an office at the complex but he said he does not have an ownership interest or office there now. He declined to comment further and referred questions to Mason.
The other defendants were Jerome Genova, Leonard Genova's father, and Sonya Alonso. Neither could be reached Tuesday.
Leonard Genova said his father had been an original owner of the complex when it was first built. Mason said Jerome Genova still has an ownership stake but is not involved in day-to-day management of the complex.
Antonina Grazioli, who signed the settlement on behalf of the complex’s owner and was described in the document as a manager for the LLC, also could not be reached on Tuesday.
For more information about the compensation fund, call Farmingdale Villas at (631) 843-0307.
Long Island Housing Services can be reached at (631) 567-5111.