Aaron Carr ’12 (CLAS) started a small housing watchdog nonprofit at age 28. Less than a decade later, that group has filed the largest housing discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history.
Originally from Long Island, Carr plied his psychology degree after graduation as campaign manager, then chief of staff for a New York state assembly member representing the Bronx. While there, he heard countless constituents complain that they were trying in vain to hold their landlords legally accountable.
So in 2016, Carr founded the Housing Rights Initiative with a few thousand dollars of his own money and began filing lawsuits and issuing scathing public reports. A 2018 New York Times profile summed up his work with this headline: “Are Landlords Telling the Truth? The City Doesn’t Always Check. He Does.”
The group now operates in five states and maintains six full-time staffers led by Carr as executive director, an army of interns and contractors, plus multiple partner law firms and government agencies. “The biggest challenge of starting an organization when you are only 28 is that, well, you are only 28. You have no idea what you are doing,” says Carr, laughing. “But the benefit of starting an organization when you are young is having a high level of energy and motivation, which is half the battle!”