New Report Alleges Ongoing Discrimination Against Voucher-Holding Tenants in NYC
New York City landlords and real estate brokers stand accused of discrimination against tenants relying on government subsidies, according to an October report released by Unlock NYC, a tech nonprofit specializing in housing issues, as reported by Gothamist.
The report exposes 23 corporate owners and real estate firms allegedly responsible for discriminating against government assistance recipients more than 10 times since 2018.
“We are in the throes of a devastating homelessness crisis,” said Manon Vergerio, an advocate with Unlock NYC, during a press conference at City Hall Park. “We need to aggressively tackle the barriers that are standing in the way between New Yorkers and stable homes.”
City and state laws prohibit discrimination based on the source of income, including vouchers used to subsidize rent. The city’s Commission on Human Rights is responsible for enforcing these laws, but advocates argue for more stringent enforcement measures.
“We want to see astronomical fines, more apartment units set aside for voucher holders as a form of repair, and broker licenses revoked,” Manon said.
The report identifies several landlords and brokerage firms as the worst offenders in this regard, including Goldfarb Properties, Chestnut Holdings, Parkchester, and the Parkoff Organization, along with 19 brokerage firms.
Kamilah Newton, a 28-year-old resident, shared her arduous five-year struggle to secure housing for herself and her two children. “It turns out nobody wants vouchers, as one bold broker put it,” she said.
The report is based on a crowdsourced database from more than 500 residents who reported discrimination. Landlords allegedly employed various tactics, including setting minimum income or credit requirements, adding arbitrary fees, failing to attend viewings, or ceasing communication once a tenant mentioned their voucher.
New York City Council member Pierina Sanchez underscored the importance of expanding housing access to provide stable living conditions and to enhance community safety. She noted that housing discrimination against voucher holders is so widespread that many affected individuals may not even realize they are being discriminated against.
As the issue of housing discrimination continues to impact NYC residents, advocates are calling for strengthened enforcement measures to ensure fair access to housing for all.