GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: HGAR Supports Equal Housing Opportunities for All

Richard Haggerty | May 2016

Haggerty-Richard_squareAs we celebrate the 48th anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act and the progress that has been made, sadly, we must recognize that after nearly five decades illegal discrimination in housing is a crime that still exists today.

The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors applauds Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent proposal to expand state fair housing protections on the basis of gender identity, as well as the governor’s partnership with Westchester Residential Opportunities (WRO) through the organization’s Fair Housing Enforcement Program.

I’m proud to note that Realtors incorporated gender identity as a protected class in our Code of Ethics in 2014. All Realtors subscribe to the Realtor Code of Ethics, which holds fair and equal service for all among its core tenets.

HGAR members receive regular updates as to new developments in Fair Housing law. Realtors have continuing education programs available to them to help ensure that they understand the law in their practice of real estate.

We support measured government efforts to root out housing discrimination.  It is our hope the governor’s program will serve as a great reminder to sellers, non-Realtor real estate licensees and landlords that housing discrimination will not and cannot be tolerated.

HGAR has had a close collaborative relationship with Westchester Residential Opportunities for many years. WRO is a not for profit organization whose mission is to promote equal, affordable and accessible housing opportunities throughout the lower Hudson River Valley. In addition to providing fair housing training for HGAR members, WRO also provides a fair housing helpline and other resources to advance fair housing compliance.

Realtors see on a daily basis the fulfillment that comes with homeownership, and that inspires us to be become advocates for consumers who are striving to achieve the American Dream of homeownership or in renting a place to call their own.

Realtor anti-discrimination efforts include advocating for greater transparency in the process of approving cooperative housing purchases. Today, co-op boards can deny the sale of a co-op that has been agreed to by the seller and the purchaser and may do so without giving a reason for denial. Even more troubling is the fact that a co-op board has no obligation to act within a specific timeframe. The board’s inaction can have the effect of a purchaser losing their financing. Realtors have proposed a change to current law requiring co-op boards to respond to applications, which would reduce the potential for discrimination to occur.

The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors vigorously supports the ideal that no one should be discriminated against based on race, color, national origin, disability or familial status as well as the additional protected classes under New York State Law including sexual orientation, military status, age or being a victim of domestic violence.

We believe in building strong, diverse communities where all are welcome.

Richard Haggerty