The three bills provide transparency and protections for people seeking rental assistance. On October 29, 2020, the City Council voted to approve three rental assistance bills that would address income discrimination and provide more transparency in the rental assistance application process.
Int 2082-A, sponsored by Council Member Keith Powers, updates the City’s Human Rights Law to be in line with recent changes to state law which repeals the exception allowing discrimination in housing accommodations based on the source of income. The new protections extend but are not limited to income sources including alimony, child support, foster care subsidies, social security income, and rental assistance including section 8 vouchers. Prospective tenants with these kinds of income cannot be denied housing, access to housing-related facilities or be charged differently because of their source of income. This bill goes into effect 90 days after being enacted.
Council Member Powers stated, “New Yorkers should not be denied permanent housing based on their form of payment. Unfortunately, people often run into issues with landlords that discriminate based on their source of income. My legislation expands protections against this type of discrimination to buildings with three or more units; and brings the city more in line with state protections.”
Int 1339-A, sponsored by Council Member Diana Ayala, requires the Department of Social Services to provide written notice to the City’s CityFHEPS rental assistance program applicants to inform them about source-of-income discrimination. The CityFHEPS program is the City’s replacement for the previous LINC, SEPS and CITYFEPS rental assistance programs. The information would include protections under the New York City Human Rights Law. This bill goes into effect 180 days after becoming law.
Council Member Ayala stated, “I have seen firsthand the difficulty voucher recipients have in trying to secure housing. Some spend years, and it is unfortunate that income discrimination becomes an obstacle to securing a place to live. Denying someone housing based on the method of income is outright wrong. Which is why I sponsored Intro. 1339. This Local Law will now require the Department of Social Services to provide written notice to those potentially eligible for city rental assistance programs and inform them of their rights and resources available related to the source of income discrimination. Voucher recipients will know their rights and will be equipped with the necessary information needed to secure housing.”
Int 2080-A, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, requires the Department of Social Services to provide CityFHEPS applicants with online application status updates. The bill went into effect immediately, but a contract to make online access available is required by June 30, 2021. The bills were later signed by the Mayor on November 17, 2020.
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)