PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Focus on Fair Housing
Marcene Hedayati | July 2016
On May 31st, more than 100 of our Managers and Broker/Owners gathered at the Doubletree Hotel in Tarrytown for their first 2016 meeting. Each year, the incoming president of HGAR invites two members to chair a committee that is responsible for organizing a minimum of two educational events throughout the year for the Managers and Broker Owners of companies in our area. The subject to be covered at each session is chosen to specifically address current industry issues and standards.
On February 14th of this year Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a Fair Housing Enforcement Program designed to identify discriminatory behavior in real estate transactions. Under the program, a plan has been put in place whereby “testers” are being used to investigate the actions of, not only real estate agents, but sellers and landlords as well. Its objective is to ensure that the rights of all individuals are protected when it comes to purchasing or renting a property. The governor has also requested that the Department of State propose regulations that would enable officials to move more swiftly and with more conviction to revoke the license of any real estate broker or salesperson should he or she be guilty of any discriminatory conduct.
Of the three fair housing agencies that have been asked to work with the state to execute the program, one of them, Westchester Residential Opportunities based out of White Plains, has been a long-time friend of HGAR. Over the years they have provided training to our members and their helpline, along with numerous other resources, has offered much needed guidance to our members. For this reason, it seemed only fitting to ask WRO to speak on Fair Housing at our May 31st meeting.
Marlene Zarfes, fair housing director with Westchester Residential Opportunities, focused on Source of Income, Familial Status and Disability. Her presentation prompted numerous questions and a host of debates and it became clear to all that navigating Fair Housing Laws is more often than not challenging, even for those of us who have been doing this for decades. Because of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtor’s and Westchester Residential Opportunities’ shared mission to eliminate all illegal housing discrimination, we, as members, should feel confident that we have the resources and support at hand to address any questions we may have.
The Broker/Owner/Manager Committee’s task is to provide information to the mentors of our industry so that they may impart that knowledge to our members. Like all other committees, the expectation is that all of our association’s initiatives are helping to fulfill our obligation as stated in our mission statement:
HGAR creates opportunities for members to grow their businesses and succeed in their communities.