Imagine being a Harvard graduate, with a $90,000 salary, an impressive credit score and still receiving denials from landlords in New York’s Brooklyn borough.
That’s the reality of a Black graduate who said she is being denied becoming an apartment tenant in Brooklyn’s quickly gentrifying Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, which has been predominately Black for nearly a century, due to her skin color. Landlords, however, are saying she is “fiscally irresponsible.”
The woman is 28-year-old Addy Fahi, using her middle name for identification in the media.
“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,” she told Patch.com.
Fahi works as an education consultant and supports black-owned businesses through her #BlackHour events, but now has lost points off her credit score and $500 in her attempts to live in five different apartments.
“She’s being discriminated against,” said Fahi’s real estate broker Michael Jude. “They say ‘it doesn’t seem as if she’s fiscally responsible,’ but her credit score and savings say something completely different.”
Fahi has been on the apartment hunt since July, that is when the lease on the four-bedroom apartment she resided in was ending. She then set her sights on a two-bedroom place in Bedford-Stuyvesant or the adjacent Crown Heights, getting a jump on the process due to racial hurdles she received in past apartment searches.
The first home she attempted to rent failed twice after the landlord gave it away. The second apartment asked for extensive financial documentation, which was submitted along with a $125 application fee just to be told she may not be financially responsible.
Additional hurdles included Fahi only having five trade lines (long-term payments like student loans, etc.) that built up her score. Apartment managers instead, asked for eight. The five lines she had were open for over five years with no missed payments.
Another apartment manager questioned her job about her character and now she believes she is being pushed out of her neighborhood.
“It’s demoralizing … I have every privilege except white privilege,” Fahi said. “If it’s hard for me, I can’t imagine how impossible it must be for other people.”
The situation is also complicated for Jude who states that he has to show the homes in the area due to New York State law, which often leads them to dreams of a home that they will not be able to get into. The practice is done by landlords being able to use a limited liability company to not give up their identity and avoid fines.
“Black excellence means little to nothing without ownership,” said Jude. “The next place you move into should be your own.”
While Fahi will aim to still secure an apartment, she has also made it a mission to unite those who have been hit with the same hurdles she is facing.