Real Estate

New York moves to outlaw income discrimination in housing

Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduces bill to prevent discrimination based on income

While the Republicans leading the Department of Housing and Urban Development are pushing to increase the rents on those who use Section 8 vouchers to afford housing, the Democratic governor of New York is moving to ensure that wanting to use a Section 8 voucher cannot be used as a means to discriminate against a prospective resident.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week that he is introducing a bill that would outlaw housing discrimination based on the source of the resident’s income.

According to Cuomo’s office, in some parts of the state, landlords discriminate against renters who use Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers, veterans benefits, or other non-wage income sources as their means to pay rent.

The practice allows landlords to engage in “backdoor discrimination” against minorities, domestic violence survivors, female-headed households, veterans, senior citizens, and individuals with disabilities, Cuomo’s office said.

According to Cuomo’s office, the income discrimination happens in areas of the state where local source of income protections do not currently exist, which allows landlords to reject applicants based on the source of their income.

“Currently, these landlords are preventing lower income households with Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability, veterans' benefits, and other government subsidies or non-wage income, from accessing safe and affordable housing,” Cuomo’s office said.

“As a result, many low-income New York families are unable to find landlords who will accept their non-wage income and spend more time in shelters or in substandard housing and in concentrated areas of poverty,” Cuomo’s office continued.

Cuomo’s bill would outlaw the practice in the state.

“Discrimination in any form will not be tolerated, and as New Yorkers continue to be turned away from safe, affordable housing, this administration is taking decisive action to ensure all residents have access to the homes they deserve,” Cuomo said in statement.

“New York is putting an end to the immoral and illegal behavior of landlords who have for too long discriminated against residents across this state,” Cuomo continued. “By upholding the Fair Housing Act of 1968, we are showing the nation and the world what it means to protect basic human rights and how these efforts will help build a better, stronger New York for all.”

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