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Gov. launches statewide fair housing initiative

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Mon, Jul 13th 2020 04:30 pm

In opposition to ‘federal government's ongoing efforts to weaken Fair Housing Act’

Initiative will solicit public feedback on barriers to fair housing opportunity

Online survey available here in 7 languages

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced the launch of a statewide effort to analyze and address segregated living patterns and housing disparities in New York. Under the governor's leadership, the state is moving forward with the Fair Housing Matters NY initiative despite what his team called “the federal government's proposal to gut fair housing regulations required by the Fair Housing Act.”

"New York will not sit back and watch while the Trump administration implements regressive policies that will disproportionately impact communities of color, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQ and women-headed households," Cuomo said. "We will continue to follow to the Obama-era regulations and uphold the Fair Housing Act by working to address the root, historical causes of segregation and housing inequality that harm New York's most vulnerable populations."

Currently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires states, local governments and public housing authorities receiving federal HUD funding to conduct an assessment of fair housing every three to five years. The assessment is a component of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, or AFFH, enacted in 2015, that requires states and local municipalities to analyze and develop meaningful actions to reduce segregated living patterns and concentrated areas of poverty, address unequal access to opportunity in neighborhoods, increase accessibility, and strengthen fair housing enforcement.

A press release said, “The Trump administration has proposed stripping away the bedrocks of the AFFH requirement and ignoring segregation, integration and systemic racial discrimination. This plan would fail to recognize the AFFH requirement that HUD address segregated living patterns and other disparities in housing and access to opportunity.

“New York will continue to adhere to the standards and process set forth by the Obama regulations with the Fair Housing Matters NY initiative. The goal of the initiative is to solicit input from community leaders, nonprofit organizations, housing professionals and residents on housing choice and access to housing opportunity. Results of this public survey will be incorporated into a report from New York State Homes and Community Renewal assessing fair housing and will guide policies that serve to remove barriers to housing. The survey is available in seven languages on HCR's website: https://hcr.ny.gov/fairhousingmattersny#surveys.”

There are two surveys available on HCR's website: one for residents and one for housing stakeholders including service providers, nonprofit housing professionals, local governments and affordable housing developers. The community resident survey is translated into Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean and Bengali.

In addition to the surveys, HCR will host a series of focus groups and resident engagement sessions this summer and fall to discuss fair housing choice.

HCR's Fair and Equitable Housing Office will analyze feedback from the surveys, focus groups, community members and other data to develop recommendations to remove barriers to housing. A draft of the initial report will be available for public comment in early 2021.

Today's announcement builds on Cuomo's ongoing efforts to pursue the goals of the Fair Housing Act, which includes enacting historic tenant protections through the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, banning source of income discrimination, and prohibiting housing providers in receipt of state funds from automatically denying applicants to housing based on negative credit or a history of justice involvement.

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "The Fair Housing Matters NY initiative is a crucial part of our mission to help reverse decades of discriminatory policies that resulted in unequal housing and segregated communities across the state. Analyzing disparities and listening to feedback from the communities we serve promotes understanding and helps us remove the barriers so many New Yorkers face when renting or buying a home in the neighborhoods of their choice. We are proud of Gov. Cuomo for leading the nation in opposition to this administration's discriminatory assault on fair housing."

New York State Division of Human Rights Interim Commissioner Johnathan J. Smith said, "Far too often, an individual's race, color, national origin, or disability limits where they can live. This has profound impacts on an individual's access to quality education, a good job, and adequate health care. We must continue the fight for safe, accessible and fair housing until every New Yorker can live in a neighborhood of their choosing. The Division of Human Rights is pleased to support HCR's efforts to analyze and address these issues.”

For more information, visit hcr.ny.gov/fairhousingmattersny.

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