Discrimination is unjust, especially when it pertains to an individual’s basic necessities such as a home. Most people are aware of redlining practices that occur across the nation, but discrimination does not stop with mortgage lenders and banks.
According to Asian Real Estate Association of America’s (AREAA) State of Asia America 2015, Asian renters are informed about 10 percent fewer rental units and are shown almost seven percent fewer units than their white counterparts. Exclusionary practices occur on other grounds too; among 120 recently resolved discrimination cases in New York, a couple was denied an apartment because of the number of children they had and a building manager rejected a mother’s request for a wheelchair accessible ramp for her disabled daughter.
Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, will soon introduce the Fair Housing Enforcement Program to detect and eliminate discrimination in the state’s housing system. Housing Opportunities Made Equal (Buffalo), CNY Fair Housing (Syracuse) and Westchester Residential Opportunities (Westchester) have partnered with the state’s initiative to employ trained men and women guised as potential renters or homebuyers. These “testers,” as the program calls them, will represent different racial and economic backgrounds, individuals with disabilities and families with children, to encompass all types of real case renters and buyers.
Every interaction with an agent, seller or landlord will be compiled and any occurrence of discrimination will be noted, reported and investigated. Apart from this undercover mission, Cuomo is also introducing new regulations from the New York State Division of Human Rights to teach New Yorkers that everyone has the right to rent or buy a home, visit theaters and enjoy a meal in any restaurant regardless of their “race, color, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, disability.”
With the state of New York taking such an important step towards eliminating discrimination in real estate, we hope other states follow suit. A discrimination-free real estate continuum is crucial for making homeownership or renting a reality for numerous Americans.