Coldwell Banker agrees to pay $30K to settle housing discrimination claims
New York Attorney General Letitia James continues her crackdown on discrimination in the housing market. The Office of the Attorney General announced a settlement with Coldwell Banker to stop its alleged discrimination against homebuyers of color on Long Island.
The OAG’s review of alleged discriminatory practices by Coldwell Banker agents was sparked by a 2019 Newsday investigative report.
The state’s investigation found that Coldwell Banker agents may have subjected prospective homebuyers of color to different requirements than white homebuyers, directed homebuyers of color to homes in neighborhoods where residents predominantly belonged to communities of color, and otherwise engaged in biased behavior.
“My office’s investigation into Coldwell Banker uncovered a persistent pattern of prospective homebuyers receiving different treatment because of their race,” said Attorney General James. “Discriminating against people because of race is not just shameful — it is illegal. Housing is and always will be a human right, and my office will continue to address these pervasive and discriminatory practices statewide.”
Fred Brewington, a civil rights attorney in Hempstead, has handled housing discrimination cases. He said the impacts of racial steering in real estate is eye-opening on Long Island.
“For instance, you go from Hempstead to Garden City and it’s a stark difference,” said Brewington. “Housing discrimination on Long Island has a long and sorted history. We hope that more people, all of our politicians, are going to look at this and say that’s not acceptable.”
As part of the settlement, Coldwell Banker will pay $20,000 in penalties and $10,000 to Suffolk County for fair housing testing. The agency must also offer fair housing trainings to all of its agents and provide discrimination complaint forms on its website.
Coldwell Banker denied the AG’s allegations, but told News 12 that upholding fair housing is one of their highest priorities.
“We applaud any effort which builds a future where all people have equal access to and opportunities for housing, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or ethnic background,” a spokesperson said in a statement on behalf of Coldwell Banker Realty.
This settlement marks the fourth action Attorney General James has taken to stop illegal housing discrimination at Long Island real estate brokerages.
In August 2022, Attorney General James and Governor Hochul announced settlements with Keller Williams Greater Nassau, Keller Williams Realty Elite, and Laffey Real Estate for engaged in discriminatory practices that violated state and federal fair housing laws.
The settlements have sparked meaningful conversations on racial disparities, bringing communities one step closer to eradicating unlawful discrimination.
“The only way we’re going to get rid of this is by talking about it, realizing that it happens and then engaging in the conversation that may not be easy, but that’s necessary,” Brewington added.
New Yorkers who have been subjected to discriminatory housing practices are encouraged to report such conduct to OAG at firstname.lastname@example.org.