Feb. 16, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The lobby display at a Sunnyside condominium that was the focus of an investigation by the NYC Commission on Human Rights will be no more under a settlement with the building’s board announced today.
The agency’s settlement, after a months-long investigation into complaints of tenant harassment and discrimination at 47-55 39th Pl., requires the current displays depicting “Nazi and Confederate imagery, swastikas, and hate symbols” and other offensive materials in the lobby to be removed.
Neal Milano, the notorious board member credited with posting the display, and who tenants say harassed and intimidated them, will also have to resign as part of the settlement.
The commission’s investigation revealed a series of shocking allegations made by tenants against Milano. One tenant, for example, told the agency that Milano left her a voicemail claiming to be Adolf Hitler, and said “the grandmaster of the KKK is coming to the lobby.”
The same tenant alleged that when she tried to rent her unit to a Latina woman, Milano responded with, “She’s Spanish. They are low lives and don’t pay the rent.”
The condo’s “House Rules” will also undergo several changes as a result of the investigation. An illegal provision requiring renters to provide a passport or residency card will be removed, and a blanket “no pets” policy will be updated to include language about accommodating tenants with disabilities.
The commission noted that tenants and condo owners can file their own complaints to the agency, as only the commission’s claims were settled.
Two other board members will also resign following the settlement, and the new board will have to notify the commission of annual meetings for the next two years.
“This kind of behavior is disgusting and unacceptable. People were terrified,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “I am happy to see this resolved and to know that the residents will no longer have to live in fear and can feel safe in our community.”
Sapna V. Raj, assistant commissioner for the Law Enforcement Bureau at CHR, hopes the settlement sends a strong message to housing providers that the city does not tolerate harassment or discrimination.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s office, which is currently investigating potential civil rights violations and financial misconduct at the condo, said they are encouraged by the CHR’s settlement.
Outside of the settlement, Milano is also accused of harassment and stalking, a case currently going through the Queens Criminal Court. A separate lawsuit filed by the owners of two units at the building is also ongoing.