New York State lawmakers lambasted real estate agents and brokers during a Senate hearing Thursday, held in the wake of a groundbreaking report from Newsday on instances on racial biases and steering on Long Island, according to a report in Newsday.
The hearing took place on Thursday, 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’s no place for housing discrimination,” State Senator, James Skoufis, said on Twitter. “And, there’s no place for ignoring legislative subpoenas.”
Among those who testified to lawmakers was Douglas Elliman’s Long Island CEO, Ann Conroy, who reported that the company did not discipline any of the 10 agents who allegedly engaged in discriminatory practices, according to the report. Her admission reportedly left State Senator Kevin Thomas, “baffled,” according to the report.
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.
“You guys are not supervising these sales agents, to the point where they don’t seem to know right from wrong,” Thomas said, according to Newsday.
Lawmakers made the agents at the center of the investigation respond to their own words, during the hearing. In one case, lawmakers asked Joy Tuxson, an associate broker with RE/MAX Beyond in Melville, why she told a white tester she wouldn’t send them any listings in a certain community unless they wanted to, “buy crack.”
Skoufis called the comment a violation of fair housing law, according to the report.
Tuxson admitted that, after the Newsday investigation, she received fair housing training. the report said.
Four of the individuals affiliated with Realty Connect USA did not respond to the subpoenas, according to Newsday. However, those individuals are expected to testify at a subsequent hearing on September 25.