The New York State Senate will finally hear from the agents and companies at the center of a discrimination probe that came in the wake of Newsday’s groundbreaking report on housing discrimination on Long Island.
The hearing will take place on Sept. 17, according to Newsday, after lawmakers issued a subpoena to the agents and companies named in the report. The Senate had originally held a hearing in December 2019 and the agents and companies mass-boycotted the event.
“There is no place in New York for housing discrimination and predatory practices,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, in a statement, after the subpoenas were issued in February. “The Senate Majority hearing was an opportunity for all parties to discuss the Newsday investigation and findings of institutionalized discrimination, and help determine how to combat these practices.”
“The individuals and groups subpoenaed by the Senate Majority refused to participate in this hearing,” Stewart-Cousins added. “These subpoenas will help us as we work to end racist and biased housing practices throughout New York State.”
The groundbreaking, three-year investigation by Long Island newspaper Newsday uncovered multiple instances of discriminatory practices after testing nearly 100 real estate agents and secretly recording hundreds of hours of conversations while looking at the listings of more than 5,000 homes.
The multiple bylined story found that 19 percent of the time, Asians were discriminated against, 39 percent of the time Hispanics were discriminated against and 49 percent of the time, black consumers were discriminated against.
Agents associated with multiple brokerages — including Douglas Elliman, franchise offices of RE/MAX, Keller Williams and others — were accused of steering the undercover investigators to neighborhoods that matched their own race or ethnicity and often subjected minority investigators to more restrictive conditions prior to viewing properties.
Earlier this summer, New York State lawmakers passed legislation to make it easier for the state to revoke a real estate agent’s license in cases of discrimination.