A new report says NYC landlords discriminate against tenants with housing vouchers

According to a recent report by housing advocates, a number of landlords and brokers in New York City are consistently denying tenants the opportunity to rent apartments if they depend on government assistance to cover the costs.

On Wednesday, Unlock NYC, a tech nonprofit that is dedicated to housing, published a list of “serial discriminators” which featured 23 corporate owners and real estate companies. According to the group, these entities have been accused of discriminating against tenants who have government subsidies more than 10 times since 2018. The purpose of this move is to name and shame these entities for their alleged discriminatory practices. It is a step towards holding them accountable for their actions and making sure that tenants are not subjected to discrimination.

During a press conference held at City Hall Park, Manon Vergerio from Unlock NYC stated that we are currently facing a severe homelessness crisis. She emphasized the need for a proactive approach to address the challenges that are preventing New Yorkers from having a secure and stable place to call home.

According to city and state law, it is unlawful for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on their source of income, even if they are using vouchers to cover their monthly rent. This protection ensures that all tenants have equal opportunities to find and secure housing, regardless of their financial situation. The city’s Commission on Human Rights and the state’s Attorney General’s office provide resources and support for those who believe they have experienced income discrimination.

Advocates are calling for stronger enforcement measures to prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants who hold vouchers. The Commission on Human Rights in the city is responsible for enforcing the law, but many believe that more needs to be done to discourage this kind of discrimination.

Requests for comment sent to the Commission on Human Rights have yet to receive a response at this time.

Manon expressed her desire to see significant action taken to address the issue at hand. She emphasized the need for high fines, increased availability of apartment units for voucher holders to serve as a means of reparation, and the revocation of broker licenses. These measures would help to rectify the situation and ensure a fair and equitable housing market for all.

Kamilah Newton shared her struggle of having to call numerous brokers over a period of five years while also experiencing homelessness, before she finally managed to secure an apartment for herself and her two children on Wednesday. The journey was undoubtedly challenging, but her perseverance and determination paid off in the end.

As per her statement, “Vouchers seem to be of no interest to anyone,” as stated by a confident broker.

According to the report, Goldfarb Properties, Chestnut Holdings, Parkchester, and the Parkoff Organization are among the worst landlord offenders. Surprisingly, none of these organizations provided any response when requested for comment. Additionally, the report also lists 19 brokerage firms that are not meeting the necessary standards.

Councilmember Pierina Sanchez emphasized the significance of granting access to stable living conditions to ensure the safety of our communities. “If we open up access to folks living in conditions that are stable, that’s how we keep our communities safe,” she stated.

According to her, the act of denying housing to tenants with vouchers is so common in our society that people are often unaware of the discrimination they face at the door. Tenants are often ignored or face various challenges during the process. This widespread issue needs to be addressed to ensure equality in housing opportunities for all.

According to the report, over 500 residents have reported facing discrimination and the data is gathered through a crowdsourced database. The report highlights that some landlords are overtly discriminatory by denying tenants, while others impose arbitrary requirements such as minimum income or credit scores, additional fees or fail to respond to tenant inquiries. Additionally, some landlords do not show up for viewings or remain unresponsive after learning that the tenant has a voucher.

According to advocates, they are currently making efforts to urge the City Council to propose a group of bills that would impose higher fines on landlords who break the law and limit credit evaluations for tenants with vouchers.

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