March 2, 2023
$3.1 million will go towards testing investigations to root out discrimination against New Yorkers using rental assistance
Two years after the release of the plan, over three-quarters of Where We Live NYC’s 81 commitments are either completed or in progress.
New York – The City today announced a $3.1 million commitment to combat source-of-income discrimination for New Yorkers who rely on rental assistance. Starting in Fiscal Year 2024, the City will dedicate $3.1 million over four years to contract with an external provider to conduct testing investigations to identify instances of housing discrimination and related enforcement work. This funding provides an opportunity for the City to build new partnerships on the ground and bring new resources, innovation, and expertise to the table to catalyze more robust testing and enforcement work citywide. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will oversee the contract, complementing ongoing work by the NYC Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). CCHR enforces the Human Rights Law’s anti-discrimination protections, including the prohibition on source of income discrimination. HPD and its partners will design, test, and implement strategies for testing and enforcement to more effectively combat discrimination in the housing market.
Source-of-income discrimination was a key area of concern for homeless and formerly homeless New Yorkers who contributed to the development of the City’s Housing Our Neighbors blueprint; it can result in longer shelter stays and make it more difficult for New Yorkers to find affordable housing in the neighborhoods they prefer. The new funding is one component of the blueprint’s citywide strategy to ramp up legal and testing resources to root out discrimination, make an example of bad actors, and elevate the issue for brokers and landlords.
“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,” said Mayor Adams. “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.”
“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,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “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.”
These new funds are also one of several actions the City has taken in recent years to advance fair housing in New York City, which are outlined in the first progress report for the fair housing plan. First released in 2020, Where We Live NYC was the City’s response to the 2015 rule issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Obama to guide cities and counties in interpreting what it means to “affirmatively further” the goals of the federal Fair Housing Act. While the rule was effective for only a short time before it was dismantled under the Trump Administration, the City of New York moved forward with the Where We Live NYC process and will continue to do with so with renewed energy under the Adams Administration.
“In order to dismantle the effects of our nation’s long history of segregation and discrimination, we must proactively fight for a city that works better for all New Yorkers, said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “The City developed Where We Live NYC in partnership with New Yorkers. This is our road map to a fairer and more just city. From breaking down barriers to homeownership to fighting displacement, we’re making progress on the promises made in Where We Live NYC and expanding this work under our administration’s Housing Our Neighbors Blueprint.”
“The Mayor’s focus on tackling source of income discrimination is pivotal” said Annabel Palma, Commissioner and Chair of the NYC Commission on Human Rights. “Testing is a longstanding tool used by the New York City Commission on Human Rights to identify discrimination. It paves the pathway to investigations and innovative settlements. We will continue to test housing providers, and secure housing opportunities for New Yorkers. We look forward to collaborating with sibling agencies in these efforts, and to ensuring our city is a place where all New Yorkers have an opportunity to attain decent and secure housing, free from discrimination.
“NYCHA is committed to combatting any form of discrimination that restricts access to housing based on sources of income," said NYCHA Interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt. "We applaud HPD and the City for dedicating the resources needed to address this serious issue and look forward to being part of the solution around providing equitable housing pathways for those in need."
“We are determined to build more housing – a lot more – and that will help us not only bring down the rents, but also tip the power dynamic in favor of tenants. As part of that effort, we need to ramp up our efforts to fight the scourge of housing discrimination. This renewed focus and commitment to protecting our most vulnerable neighbors is central to our work to create a more equitable New York City for all,” said Dan Garodnick, Department of City Planning Director and Chair of the City Planning Commission.
Last month, HUD published a new proposed rule that would expand upon the 2015 rule with an emphasis on goal-setting, increasing transparency for the public, and strengthening program evaluation and accountability, and they welcome public comment on the rule until April 10, 2023. New York City is ahead of the game, and HPD, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), and Department of City Planning (DCP), in coordination with our partners in education, health, transportation, criminal justice, and immigrants’ rights, will continue to lead efforts to advance fair housing in the New York City.
To date, over three-quarters of the 81 commitments made in the Where We Live NYC plan are either completed or in progress, many of which were accomplished under this Administration:
- Made a record number of affordable homes available through the new NYC Housing Connect: HPD’s new version of Housing Connect improves the application experience for a wide variety of users. In Fiscal Year 2022, HPD made a record 6,170 homes available through the new NYC Housing Connect.
- Created the New York City Public Housing Preservation Trust: In June 2022, Governor Hochul signed the Public Housing Preservation Trust into law, which will fund repairs for 25,000 NYCHA apartments. The legislation establishes a resident opt-in voting process and empowers residents to take an active role in overseeing the rehabilitation of their homes.
- Completed Gowanus and SoHo/NoHo neighborhood rezonings: These rezonings will bring up to 3,900 new permanently affordable homes to two high-cost and transit-rich neighborhoods that are currently out of reach to low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.
- Established the permanent citywide expansion of the Homeowner Help Desk for struggling homeowners: HPD and the Center for New York City Neighborhoods expanded the Homeowner Help Desk to parts of Central Brooklyn, Southeast Queens, and the North Bronx in 2021. Now planned to go citywide, the program will provide support to an estimated 1,000 homeowners annually.
- Invested in housing mobility counseling for voucher holders: HPD and the City have expanded efforts to ensure that voucher holders have meaningful choice in the housing market – including those who are seeking to move to amenity-rich neighborhoods. Key programs are the Housing Choice pilot, mobility counseling for Emergency Housing Voucher holders, and a new HUD Community Choice demonstration.
- Increased opportunities for homeless households to access affordable housing: HPD has continued to eliminate barriers for homeless households with City-funded rental assistance to access permanent housing. These changes have resulted in a record number of homeless placements into HPD-financed affordable housing. Units filled through homeless placements increased 160% from Fiscal Year 2020 to Fiscal Year 2022.
- Launched the Equitable Development Data Explorer and racial equity report requirement for land use actions: The Department of City Planning (DCP) and HPD collaborated with the Racial Impact Study Coalition to design and launch the Equitable Development Data Explorer (EDDE), a new, publicly accessible web tool. Certain property owners applying for land use changes must now produce a racial equity report using information pulled from the data tool.
To read the full progress report, including the status of each of the 81 actions in the plan, visit nyc.gov/wherewelive.
“New Yorkers need to be protected from and informed about discrimination in housing, and HUD has once again taken steps to implement the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule to ensure everyone can live where they choose,” said Alicka Ampry-Samuel, HUD Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey. “I applaud the City’s Where We Live NYC plan for its continued focus on this issue. I look forward to implementing AFFH to reduce or eliminate discrimination in housing and foster opportunity in communities across the state.”
“Fair housing requires sustained focus on many fronts, and the City deserves great credit for embracing resident decision making in NYCHA rehabilitation, zoning for mixed-income housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods, and other progress to date,” said Howard Slatkin, Executive Director of Citizens Housing Planning Council. “The Where We Live NYC framework has helped set the stage for vital next steps toward equitable housing opportunity, including reforms in the Governor’s Housing Compact and the Mayor’s City of Yes.”
“Open New York is excited about the City's commitment to affirmatively furthering fair housing, despite the federal government having stepped away from enforcement over the past five years,” said Annemarie Gray, Executive Director of Open New York. “What we need to supercharge the City's work are changes in Albany that will get rid of unnecessary barriers to housing growth and will set growth standards for all communities in NYC, even those that have blocked housing opportunities for so long.”
“Fifty-five years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, and our City still has a long way to go to address the effects that racial discrimination in the housing market has had on communities of color,” said NYC Comptroller Brad Lander. “The 81 commitments made in the Where We Live report are a good start and I’ve been proud to be a partner in accomplishing several of them, including the Gowanus Neighborhood Plan, which was the first rezoning to include a racial equity study. There is still much to be done, and I look forward to working collaboratively to expand shared-equity housing development and essential anti-displacement protections that keep tenants in their homes.”
“We need clear-eyed and bold fair housing plans like Where We Live NYC to address our nation’s legacy of racial injustice and housing inequities. As we develop strategies to tackle the affordability and housing crisis, fair housing needs to be at the center of all everything we do,” said Council Member Farah Louis. “I commend this administration for their commitment to affirmatively furthering fair housing, and look forward to continuing the conversation and working together to make this a stronger, fairer city.”