Governor Announces Investment in Statewide Fair Housing Testing Program

Governor Kathy Hochul. Image Credit: Office of Governor Kathy Hochul.

On February 24th, 2023, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced a state-wide, $2.2 million investment in New York’s Fair Housing Testing Program. The expansion will be overseen and administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s Fair and Equitable Housing Office. The purpose of the Fair Housing Testing Program is to increase investigations into housing discrimination and enhance education and outreach efforts for fair housing rights, including for individuals with a history of involvement with the criminal justice system.

The Fair Housing Testing Program will contract with six non-profit organizations to test renting and home buying in 48 counties in New York, including the five boroughs of New York City. The agencies dispatch trained fair housing “testers” to act as potential tenants, or purchasers, to determine whether sellers, brokers, or landlords are attempting to discriminate against them. Participating agencies are CNY Fair Housing; Fair Housing Justice Center; Housing Opportunities Made Equal; Legal Assistance of Western New York; Long Island Housing Services; and Westchester Residential Opportunities.

The focus of the agencies’ efforts is on fair housing protections. The education outreach efforts will include advertisements and social media messaging, training events, and professional education classes.

The investment is also an expansion of the two-year pilot program started by New York Attorney General Letitia James to root out discriminatory housing practices and improve the overall housing stock in New York State. Attorney General James announced the original $4.5 million grant to the Eliminating Barriers to Housing in New York Program on May 6, 2020. Funds for the program were made available to Qualified Fair Housing Organizations that operated as full-service fair housing programs. Up to 80 percent of the grant dollars were available for systematic testing  d  investigations, fair housing and fair lending testing enforcement, and education and outreach efforts. The investigations and testing aimed to expose systemic discrimination based on factors such as race, national origin, disability, and income. The remaining 20 percent of funds were used to assist income-eligible persons with disabilities and their families with children by removing any physical or health barriers in current housing situations.

Governor Hochul stated, “As we expand access to housing across New York State, I am using all of the resources at my disposal to combat housing discrimination and ensure that all New Yorkers are treated with dignity, fairness, and respect when seeking the housing of their choice. Our investment in this crucial program sends a clear message: housing discrimination will not be tolerated here in New York.”

Housing advocates were grateful to Hochul for the investment and support in improving fair housing practices throughout New York State. Elizabeth Grossman, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Justice Center said of the investment, “The Fair Housing Justice Center is immensely grateful for this support from HCR and we are eager to get to work on new testing and outreach activities. Testing remains a critical tool for fair housing organizations to use in the fight against discrimination, and we look forward to conducting robust investigations throughout the New York City region. The outreach funding will provide an enhanced opportunity for us to increase awareness of fair housing rights and responsibilities, especially the strong protections that New York State has put in place to counter source-of-income discrimination, and to provide training to tenants, home seekers, and housing providers. Thanks to the support of HCR, people throughout our service area will know that they can come to us for help, and that our programs will get them the help they need.”

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

Governor’s Office: Governor Hochul Announces Expanded Efforts to Combat Housing Discrimination Across New York (February 24, 2023).



One thought on “Governor Announces Investment in Statewide Fair Housing Testing Program

  1. I have been for years requesting this and have even given suggestions on how to do it piece by piece but the system says yes and doesn’t ever do anything but spend more money . It can be done across the board from city NYCHA to individual housing..
    The main thing is management of the money and managing each section separately. The housing in NYCHA is so deplorable that it’s disgusting how people live. ALSO PEOPLE NEED TO BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THIER SPACES.
    You can do a trial by taking one NYCHA development and divide it.
    I know it can be done with proper leadership and workers that care. I myself did do a similar thing with 100 apartments and out of control drug and rat infested properties, Today they are not only affordable but livable and people want to be on a waiting list to get in. Also it was in the red financially but not anymore. It takes time but can be accomplished.

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