The Realtor organization’s new campaign comes after a sweeping investigation in which journalists found endemic discrimination among Long Island’s real estate community.

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About two-and-a-half years after a news report revealed multiple-instance racial discrimination among real estate agents on Long Island, New York, the local Realtor board has launched a new effort to promote fair housing.

The effort, from the Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR), is dubbed “Home for All of Us: Committed to Delivering Fair Housing Across Long Island.” The program is described as an “information campaign” with the goal of “advancing fair housing,” according to a statement. The campaign also includes a newly-launched website with guides on various fair housing rules.

The “initial focus is on source of income protections in New York State,” the statement further explains.

“Whether you are a property owner, real estate broker or agent, property management firm or simply someone renting a property for the first time, you have an opportunity and — in many cases — a legal obligation to do your part to ensure housing is being offered in ways that treat all people equitably,” the statement notes.

Fair housing and racial discrimination have been much-debated in real estate for years, and the topic particularly garnered attention in 2020 after police killed George Floyd. The incident sparked protests across the U.S. and reenergized an ongoing debate about how to tackle racism.

Long Island has had a uniquely prominent place in this debate thanks to a 2019 investigation from Newsday. The investigation involved secretly collecting hundreds of hours of recorded conversations with real estate agents and combing through thousands of listings. And in the end, the investigation found multiple instances in which real estate professionals discriminated against Asian American, Latino and Black consumers.

In the wake of the investigation, many real estate organizations embarked on efforts to curb discriminatory practices. Late last year, for example, several major portals stopped displaying crime data after citing its potential use as a means of discrimination. And earlier this year, the National Association of Realtors endorsed the idea of requiring all real estate licensees to do fair housing training.

The Newsday investigation on Long Island isn’t the sole cause of such developments, but it is a significant chapter in the story of how real estate has handled discrimination in recent years.

Tessa Hultz

Tessa Hultz

LIBOR CEO Tessa Hultz ultimately noted that “with unfair housing practices and concerns making news in our communities and beyond, we want to be clear that Realtors are engaged partners in advancing fair housing,” she said in the statement on the new program.

“By ensuring that everyone can choose where they live,” Hultz also said, “those of us who call Long Island home have an opportunity to build stronger communities, support more stable neighborhoods and create a more attractive environment for businesses to relocate and grow.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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