A Brooklyn landlord is being sued for housing discrimination, after allegedly describing one of his Midwood properties as a "Jewish building," and refusing for years to rent it out to black tenants.

The complaint, filed in federal district court on Wednesday by the Fair Housing Justice Center, alleges that Zev Pollak is "perpetuating racial segregation" by turning away people of color from his 48-unit building at 1411 Avenue N. The group says they gathered the evidence of discrimination over three years, by sending a number of "testers"—some white, some non-white—to inquire about vacant apartments in the building.

Earlier this year, Pollak showed an apartment to one of the white testers, encouraging him to apply. Two days later, the group sent an African American applicant, who was allegedly informed by superintendent Eldina Balic that the building was "100%" full. When a different white tester showed up a day later, Balic told him there were apartments available. The prospective renter was directed to Pollak's office, where the landlord confirmed the apartment was open and encouraged him to apply.

jewishbuilding0716.jpeg The "Jewish building" in question (Google Maps)

Similar tests dating back to 2016 yielded equally damning results. In 2016, the complaint states, Pollack once again turned away an African American tester, despite having told a white renter that there were units available the previous day. When the group sent a second white tester to see an apartment two days later, Pollak encouraged him to apply, noting it was a "Jewish building" in a "quiet and safe" neighborhood with "stable" tenants.

The group notes that the population of Midwood is less than 2 percent African American, alleging that both Pollak's comments and actions are reenforcing that segregation.

Pollak's firm, ZP Realty Capital LLC, was founded in the early 1980s and describes itself as a "full service real estate company specializing in multi-family and commercial investment properties." The business's website is no longer online, but an archived version of the site claims that Pollak "successfully negotiated several billion dollars’ worth of real estate transactions."

A person who answered a listed phone number for the landlord declined to comment on the suit.

In a statement, FHJC executive director Fred Freiberg noted that while racial discrimination in housing may be less visible than it was 50 years ago, it remains "quite pervasive and just as heinous and harmful as more overt discrimination."

“It is beyond vexing that a real estate broker, licensed by the State of New York, is directly involved in making housing unavailable to people based on race," Freiberg added.

In addition to the federal suit, the group has filed an administrative complaint with the state's Division of Licensing Services, noting the discrimination charges, as well as Pollak's alleged habit of illegally charging brokers fees to tenants in buildings that he rents.