Charge Privately-owned Cooperatives in N.Y. with Anti-jewish Discrimination

Charges of discrimination against Jews and members of other minority groups seeking apartments in more than 100 privately-owned cooperative apartment buildings in Manhattan, were made today by Frederic S. Berman, former commissioner of Rent and House-in Maintenance. The charge followed a year of investigation by the American Jewish Committee. Mr. Berman, an attorney, is chairman of a new committee of the AJ Committee’s New York chapter which will tackle the problem, made the charge at a press conference.

“Discrimination is always reprehensible,” Mr. Berman said, “but it is particularly evil in this form in New York today, when housing is shorter than it has been in 18 years. This aggravates a shortage already critical enough to force many good citizens of various income levels to leave our city and look for housing elsewhere.” Mr. Berman said the instances of discrimination were found mainly in older buildings on the East Side, managed by large realty firms. “Many of those who control these buildings and who practice exclusion are persons in positions of community leadership,” Edward D. Moldover, chapter president said.

Many prospective tenants, Mr. Berman said, are told outright that Jews are not wanted. Others are informed that “we have a church-going crowd and you wouldn’t be happy here,” or “we prefer social-register type people. What the owners are doing,” Mr. Berman said, “runs completely contrary to the temper of our city and our times. Even worse, they are violating city and state laws, and thereby weaken the overall effort to secure respect for and compliance with the law.”

Mr. Berman said his new committee is pursuing a program to end the discrimination. The program includes: the announcement, which he hoped would draw attention to offending buildings; private discussions with tenant boards of directors; discussions with the leadership of the real estate industry, specifically those involved in cooperative management, urging them to influence boards of directors to discontinue discrimination; bringing evidence of persistent discrimination to city and state agencies with jurisdiction over enforcement of anti-discrimination laws; and bringing test cases to court to force compliance.

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