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Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced a $2.2 million expansion of New York's Fair Housing Testing Program designed to root out discrimination in home rental and sale transactions.
New York partnered with six nonprofit organizations across the state to deploy undercover testers to act as potential renters and home seekers. A press release stated, “The expansion will increase proactive investigations of suspected housing discrimination, and enhance education and outreach efforts on fair housing rights – including for individuals with a history of criminal system involvement.”
Hochul said, "As we expand access to housing across New York state, I am using all of the resources at my disposal to combat housing discrimination and ensure that all New Yorkers are treated with dignity, fairness and respect when seeking the housing of their choice. Our investment in this crucial program sends a clear message: Housing discrimination will not be tolerated here in New York."
The Fair Housing Testing Program is administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal's Fair and Equitable Housing Office and expands the pilot testing program established by the office in 2021. The program also provides continuity to the “Eliminating Barriers to Housing New York” testing and outreach program launched by the New York Office of the Attorney General in partnership with Enterprise Community Partners.
HCR has finalized contracts with six organizations to conduct testing in 48 counties, including Nassau and Suffolk, Westchester, Albany and Schenectady, as well as the five boroughs of New York City. The fair housing testing and outreach partners are: CNY Fair Housing, the Fair Housing Justice Center, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Legal Assistance of Western New York, Long Island Housing Services, and Westchester Residential Opportunities. These nonprofit housing agencies will dispatch trained fair housing "testers" to act as potential renters or home seekers to uncover unlawful discriminatory treatment by sellers, brokers and landlords.
The program's outreach and training will focus on fair housing protections, including for those with arrest and conviction histories. The outreach includes advertisements and social media messaging, training events, and professional education classes.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Housing is an essential human right, and we must continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that all New Yorkers have a fair and equal opportunity to live in the communities of their choice. Our Fair Housing Testing program complements Gov. Hochul's New York Housing Compact, which will proactively address disparities in housing access, exclusionary zoning, and other barriers that impede fair housing goals, and help us build a better and more equitable New York for all."
More information on Fair Housing can be found on HCR's website: https://hcr.ny.gov/feho.
DeAnna Eason, Executive Director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal, said, "Education and outreach are imperative to the eradication of discrimination in housing and the furtherance of fair housing. HOME appreciates the support of NYSHCR in combatting bias in housing, and the promotion of diversity and equality in our communities."