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Feds: Glitzy Riverdale Apartment Building Discriminated Against Black Renters

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An upscale Bronx apartment building has been accused of racial discrimination. A new federal lawsuit claims the owners and operators discourage African Americans from moving in.

The suit is accusing a Riverdale landlord of exercising the kind of quiet housing bias that keeps some neighborhoods mostly white -- even when people of color have the money and means to move there. CBS 2's Lou Young spoke to one woman was apartment hunting on Tuesday.

"You wouldn't think they'd do it in this day and age," the woman said.

The building in question is 72-unit apartment house where the Justice Department says black would-be renters were turned away while whites and Hispanics were encouraged to rent.  It's a pattern the feds said they documented the pattern with four teams of testers posing as would-be renters. In all cases the blacks were allegedly discouraged and whites were helped -- in one case with a suggestion of a getting a lower rent.

"I think that's a horrible thing to do. You shouldn't discriminate against anybody on the basis of color or anything like that," building resident Todd Garvin said.

Like the neighborhood, the building is racially is mixed, but mostly white.

"Spanish people, black people who live here and the super, I think is Spanish as well," resident Suzzanne Ljuljdjuraj said.

No one answered at superintendent Jesus Velascos' door Tuesday, and at the offices of building manager Young got an abrupt, firm and spirited refusal to discuss the matter.

"No comment. No comment. No comment, please leave," Young was told.

That was disheartening to Riverdale residents who consider their neighborhood a model of tolerance.

"I'm just kind of speechless. I mean people are still being judged by the color of their skin? That's pretty said. I mean what happened to 'post racial?'" resident Jennifer Secular said.

The building super, Goodman Management, and the owners, Loventhal Silver Riverdale LLC., are all named in the federal suit.

Federal authorities say they've been working on the case for two years. The lawsuit is asking for a court injunction, fines and damages for anyone who was discriminated against.

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