LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: The Time to Act is Now

Philip Weiden | June 2017

In a Daily News editorial, the New York City writer Errol Louis commented on the New York City co-op bill. He stated, “At present, co-op boards aren’t required to explain why they accept or reject applicants, leaving boards free to discriminate based on race.” For nearly four years, New York City Councilman Brad Lander has been promoting a bill that would require co-op boards to comply with Fair Housing reporting requirements by giving timely explanations of why they reject applicants.

The bill, introduced in 2014, still lacks support from the progressive mayor or the progressive City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, both of whom appear afraid to incur the wrath of co-op leaders.

I asked Councilman Lander what it will take to push the city’s progressives to get serious about tackling segregation in New York. “This is a moment for a much broader coalition of people to step up,” he told me. “Attacking the mayor is good fun, but the challenge is to build a serious movement.” http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/limousine-liberals-article-1.3241989

Now here are my thoughts. For decades we have been hearing that this is a major issue that required thought and coalition building. However, we have heard few good reasons why the co-op boards object to this bill. Could it be that there are other motives? I think that there are. I also think it is time to take a stand and vote. You can be for or against this but the New York City Council, the State Assembly and the State Senate should go on record about whether they are for or against co-op transparency and fair housing legislation.

This is the only form of housing where you are not told why you are being rejected. This is unacceptable in 2017 especially in the greatest and most diverse city in the world. If the co-op boards have a valid reason to reject someone, that is fine. Put it in writing and disclose why a prospective purchaser is being rejected.

The time period aspect also should be non-controversial. It should not take months to get an answer. Forty-five days is more than enough time to get this done. Suffolk County and the Village of Hempstead have had the courage to enact co-op fair housing legislation and the world has not come crashing down. If it worked there, it can work everywhere. Urge your lawmakers to enact this legislation now.

Philip Weiden
Legislative Affairs columnist Philip Weiden is the Government Affairs Director for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.