Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a new program where specially trained “testers” will pose as renters and homeseekers to try to uncover discrimination in the real estate industry.
The new program comes after the state settled 123 cases alleging housing discrimination in 2015. The settlements include a case in which a black mother of three alleged that management at a Suffolk County building refused to put her on a waiting list for a three-bedroom apartment, but gave white residents immediate move-ins to those units, the governor’s office said. Other cases included discrimination against the disabled and women.
Cuomo went on WCBS-880 Tuesday to discuss the purpose of the new Fair Housing Enforcement Program, saying that fighting housing discrimination was an ongoing effort:
We are one state and we are one society. And that is a constant, ongoing effort because there is still discrimination in society, let’s be honest. People tend to be afraid of differences and it’s something we have to work at. Housing is probably the most important area because where you live is where you go to school. It’s how safe the community is. It’s the friends that your children grow up with, and we want to make sure that people still understand and we will enforce that you can’t discriminate in housing. You can’t say I don’t want to live next to an Italian, I don’t want to live next to an African-American family – that violates the law. It’s not just wrong, it violates the law. And it still happens. Anyone who says it doesn’t happen is living in a state of denial. We’ve made progress, but we need to do more.
The governor also announced new proposed regulations for the New York State Division of Human Rights that would strengthen anti-discriminatory laws. Here’s the full release.