THE BRONX — The notorious Bronx landlord of the building where a tenant recently got sick from a rare disease transmitted by rat urine is now being sued for refusing to accept Section 8 vouchers as housing payments, according to a discrimination lawsuit filed by The Legal Aid Society.
Ved Parkash refused to accept Section 8 vouchers as payment for housing, which violates the city's Human Rights Law by discriminating against forms of income used for rent, according to the suit filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Fair Housing Justice Center and tenant Rosalba Tejada Gonzalez, who has lived in a rent-stabilized apartment at 2051 Grand Concourse for more than a decade.
“Mr. Parkash shouldn’t discriminate against families and break the law just to serve his wallet," Gonzalez said. "My family’s been living in this building for 13 years and he’s supposed to accept city programs that help keep a roof over our heads."
Gonzalez suffers from arthritis and severe depression, which makes it difficult for her to move, and two of her adult children live in the apartment with her, according to the lawsuit.
She called Parkash's company on June 8 to ask if they would accept her Section 8 voucher as rent, but the person answering the phone said no — which is illegal — the suit says.
She called again on Aug. 3, when either Parkash or his son — the lawsuit says it is unclear who was talking — declined to accept the voucher, saying, "We don’t want to deal with Section 8. It’s such a hassle. Nothing wrong with her, it’s just Section 8,” according to the suit.
A tester with the Fair Housing Justice Center later reached out to Parkash's company about a vacant apartment at 125 Mount Hope Pl. on Jan. 6, and when she asked if the landlord would accept her Section 8 voucher, the agent replied, "Nah," the suit says.
The federal government funds the Section 8 housing subsidy program as a way to help low-income tenants find and secure places to live.
The suit demands that Parkash accept Gonzalez's Section 8 voucher and comply with the New York City Human Rights Law banning discrimination against tenants who use such vouchers.
Parkash denied the allegations in the lawsuit in an email, maintaining that more than 25 percent of tenants in Gonzalez's Grand Concourse building are on Section 8 and that his company has always accepted the vouchers as a form of payment.
Parkash's properties have faced several troubles prior to Monday's lawsuit. A tenant in his building at 750 Grand Concourse recently came down with a rare disease transmitted by rat urine called leptospirosis, and he was named the city's worst landlord on Public Advocate Letitia James' 2015 list. He is number four on this year's list.
Megan K. O'Byrne, staff attorney at The Legal Aid Society's Tenant Rights Coalition, said that the lawsuit was another example of Parkash's "unabashed disregard for the law and basic inhumanity."
"It’s truly a wonder he can sleep at night knowing his tenants live in deplorable conditions and those he’s denied housing to for illegal reasons suffer on the streets,” she said.