In an advanced effort to eradicate housing discrimination, the state of New York has developed the Fair Housing Enforcement Program, complete with “testers” who pretend to be potential buyers or renters within the New York real estate market.

  • Agents, landlords and owners are all subject to investigation and prosecution if potential housing discrimination is uncovered or certain laws are violated, according to Governor Cuomo’s office.
  • According to Governor Cuomo, the New York Division of Human Rights has recently settled 123 allegations of housing discrimination due to race, disabilities and familial status.
  • In 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a similar piece of legislation requiring testers be used to help expose and eliminate discrimination within the housing and employment sectors of NYC.

In an advanced effort to eradicate housing discrimination, the state of New York has developed the Fair Housing Enforcement Program, complete with “testers” who pretend to be potential buyers or renters within the New York real estate market.

The diverse set of undercover prospects will work together in teams and go about their apartment or house hunts as normal, and then report back on any treatment throughout the process.

Agents, landlords and owners are all subject to investigation and prosecution if potential housing discrimination is uncovered or certain laws are violated, according to Governor Cuomo’s office.

“These actions will hold housing providers accountable — we will not hesitate to crack down on those who break the law. We will do everything we can to root out discrimination where it shows its ugly presence in order to create stronger and more inclusive communities statewide,” Governor Cuomo said.

Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo’s office announced three fair housing groups were hired to help to ensure the program’s success, including CNY Fair Housing in Syracuse, Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) in Buffalo and Westchester Residential Opportunities in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam.

“Every day Realtors assist all New Yorkers in achieving the American Dream of homeownership or in renting a place to call their own. We stand united with the governor in his effort to eradicate housing discrimination,” New York State of Realtors CEO Duncan R. Mackenzie said in a prepared statement.

According to Governor Cuomo, the New York Division of Human Rights has recently settled 123 allegations of housing discrimination due to race, disabilities and familial status, half of which were based out of New York City. While state and federal law currently prohibit these acts of intolerance, issues are still occurring. The immoral and unjust practices within the housing division sparked the Governor to step up state-wide regulations.

Cuomo says he’s focused on sending a message to both real estate stakeholders within New York and throughout the nation.

“The simple, painful truth is that for all our progress in creating a better society, discrimination is still alive and well in America today. We will not stand for it in New York,” he said.

In 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a similar piece of legislation requiring testers be used to help expose and eliminate discrimination within the housing and employment sectors of NYC. Although set in place almost a year ago, de Blasio’s fair housing testers are still too new to analyze.

Back in April, New York City Councilman Brad Lander commented on de Blasio’s housing discrimination testing program.

“Matched-pair testing is one of the strongest proactive ways to go after those landlords and employers who repeatedly discriminate against New Yorkers,” Lander said.

Email Jennifer Riner

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