Gov. Cuomo to Step Up Anti Housing Discrimination Efforts

Philip Weiden | February 2016

Phil WeidenHGAR Director of Government Affairs
Phil Weiden
HGAR Director of Government Affairs

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched a new Fair Housing Enforcement Program. The goal is to root out discrimination in both home sale transactions and in rentals.

The governor cited 123 housing complaints that have been resolved that resulted from violations pertaining to protected classes. The protected classes wherein the alleged violations occurred were race, color, national origin, disability and familial status. The complete state list of protected classes includes age, marital status military status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. On the federal level protected classes are race, religion, sex, national origin, familial status and disability.

Three agencies have been hired by the state thus far to conduct testing to ensure all parties are abiding by fair housing law. The agencies are Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) in Buffalo, CNY Fair Housing in Syracuse, and Westchester Residential Opportunities in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

“Westchester Residential Opportunities works on behalf of communities and individuals to expand access to non-discriminatory housing,” said Geoffrey Anderson, executive director, Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. “We are delighted that this partnership with Governor Cuomo and the State of New York will further our shared mission to eliminate illegal housing discrimination. Individuals and families in need of housing should be welcome wherever they choose to live.”

The Department of State will promulgate and publish regulations to specify what constitutes discriminatory conduct and is prohibited by law. The Department will move to revoke the license of any real estate broker or salesperson that is found to have engaged in discriminatory conduct by any city, state or federal agency or court of competent jurisdiction. The Department of State will also advise the real estate industry of the new regulations and develop detailed guidance informing real estate brokers and salespeople of their obligations under law. The New York State Association of Realtors, the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors and other local boards and associations will also get the word out on any new regulations that Department of State issues.

It is also important to know the fair housing law in each county that you live and work in. Different counties have different additions to the human rights law. Any county can strengthen human rights law and add on protections for different classes, but they cannot weaken civil rights and human rights law. For instance Westchester County has source of income as a protected class and New York State doesn’t.

If you any questions you can contact HGAR or NYSAR. We are here to help.

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