City Commits $3.1 Million Over Four Years to Combat Source of Income Discrimination

Image Credit: NYC HPD and the Mayor’s Office.

On March 2, 2023, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced that$3.1 million will go towards efforts to combat source-of-income discrimination for New Yorkers who rely on rental assistance. Source-of-income discrimination is an illegal practice by landlords, owners, and real estate brokers who refuse to rent to current or prospective tenants seeking to pay for housing with vouchers, subsidies, or other public assistance.

The commitment will start in Fiscal Year 2024 and be spread over four years. This grant will go towards testing investigations to identify instances of housing discrimination and related enforcement work. The funds will provide an opportunity for the city to develop new partnerships throughout the city and bring new resources, ideas, and expertise to the city to begin more robust testing and enforcement citywide.

The City has been advancing fair housing in New York City since 2015, in response to a rule the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued under President Obama. The rule guided cities and counties in interpreting what it means to “affirmatively further” the goals of the federal Fair Housing Act. Even though the rule was dismantled under the Trump Administration, the City independently moved forward with its process and published its first progress report in 2020, Where We Live NYC, which details the City’s fair housing plan and goals. Over three-quarters of the 81 commitments made in the Where We Live NYC plan are completed or in progress, including the completion of the Gowanus and SoHo/NoHo neighborhood rezonings, updating the NYC Housing Connect application portal, establishing the New York City Public Housing Preservation Trust, and expanding the Homeowner Help Desk for struggling homeowners citywide.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development will oversee the contract, accompanying ongoing work by the City’s Commission on Human Rights. The Commission on Human Rights enforces the Human Rights Law’s anti-discrimination protections, which include the prohibition of source-of-income discrimination. Together, HPD and its partners will use the funds to design, test, and implement strategies for testing and enforcement to combat discrimination more effectively in the housing market.

On June 7, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams released his administration’s plan to address New York City’s affordable housing crisis and help New Yorkers obtain safe, high-quality affordable housing. The blueprint, titled Housing Our Neighbors, ties together the work of HPD, Housing Development Corporation, NYCHA, DSS, and several other city agencies that work together to address housing issues more holistically. Source-of-income discrimination was a key area of concern for homeless and formerly homeless New Yorkers who contributed to the development of the plan because discrimination can result in longer shelter stays and make it more difficult for New Yorkers to find affordable housing in neighborhoods that they prefer.

Mayor Adams stated, “Housing vouchers are one of the most important tools in our effort to address the affordability crisis, helping lower-income New Yorkers access quality, stable homes. But we still hear from far too many New Yorkers who have experienced source-of-income discrimination, preventing them from using their vouchers and keeping them in the shelter system. This funding will help to even more aggressively crack down on landlords discriminating against voucher holders, and speed up the process of placing families in need into the homes they deserve.”

Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz stated, “Every New Yorker should have access to high-quality, affordable housing. We made it clear in Housing Our Neighbors that the Adams administration has no tolerance for source-of-income discrimination that prevents New Yorkers from using their housing vouchers. This latest investment in source-of-income testing will strengthen one of the most critical tools we have to catch bad actors and hold them accountable. This builds on the significant progress outlined in the Where We Live NYC progress report, moving us toward a fairer and more equitable city.”

By: Jessica Kovac (Jessica is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)



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