Ian Wilder, executive director of Long Island Housing Services, said access...

Ian Wilder, executive director of Long Island Housing Services, said access to housing has a big impact on people's lives.  Credit: Rick Kopstein

A real estate broker based in Woodbury agreed to pay $5,000 to settle allegations that advertisements for rental listings posted under her name on Craigslist were discriminatory.

Long Island Housing Services, a Bohemia-based fair housing agency, documented apartment listings on Craigslist that included phrases such as “Single Occupancy Only,”  which were tied to associate broker Shawn A. McLaughlin, of Realty Connect USA. 

That language in an advertisement represents a potential violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination against families with children, someone who is pregnant or someone in the process of securing legal custody of a child, according to Long Island Housing Services. The ads marketed studio and one-bedroom apartments in areas including Huntington, Huntington Station, Melville, Commack and East Northport.

“Housing is just so central to people’s lives — where the children go to school, where the job opportunities are, where they can get food, who they can connect with,” said Ian Wilder, executive director of Long Island Housing Services. "It’s the American dream, right, of being able to choose where you want to live. If that’s affected, that becomes a problem.”

New York’s Human Rights Law also prohibits discrimination based on a person’s marital or familial status.

McLaughlin did not respond to requests for comment. Realty Connect USA, which was not part of the settlement, did not return a message seeking comment.

While the federal law prohibits discrimination against families, it doesn’t supersede laws that restrict the maximum number of people permitted to live in a dwelling, according to HUD.

However, advertisements asking only for single tenants would discourage even a single parent with a young child or a couple from contacting a real estate agent, LIHS said.

“We never dispute health and safety,” Wilder said. “ … It’s hard to think of a place that would be legally rentable that at least two people couldn’t live in.”

Long Island Housing Services collected 10 ads posted online in 2022 under McLaughlin’s name as part of its monitoring of websites advertising housing opportunities. That work is funded by a grant the nonprofit received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

As part of the settlement, McLaughlin agreed to adopt a non-discriminatory fair housing policy, display signage indicating her compliance with fair housing laws and participate in training, LIHS said.

The nonprofit said Long Islanders can forward examples of discriminatory housing ads or other tips to info@lifairhousing.org or Long Island Housing Services Inc., 640 Johnson Ave. Suite 8, Bohemia, NY 11716.

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