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  • Opening Acts: December 12, 2019

Opening Acts: December 12, 2019

Photo © by Bernard Kleina

December 13, 2019


Release of the Plan Coincides with a Hearing Being Held Jointly Today by Three New York State Senate Committees

ERASE Racism and the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) today issued a five-point plan calling on government and the real estate industry to address housing discrimination on Long Island. Release of the plan – titled “Joint Recommendations of ERASE Racism and the Fair Housing Justice Center” – coincides with a joint hearing being held today on Long Island by three New York State Senate Committees: Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development; Committee on Investigations and Government Operations, and Committee on Consumer Protection.

The hearing comes in the wake of a three-year investigation by Newsday of widespread housing discrimination published in the landmark report Long Island Divided.” The investigation conducted a region-wide paired-testing initiative, in consultation with the Fair Housing Justice Center, to measure how real estate agents treated minority clients compared to white clients. The report found “evidence of widespread separate and unequal treatment of minority potential homebuyers and minority communities on Long Island.” Black testers experienced disparate treatment 49 percent of the time, compared with 39 percent for Hispanics and 19 percent for Asian testers.

ERASE Racism and the FHJC worked together to prepare this five-point plan because of a shared longstanding focus on housing discrimination. ERASE Racism and the FHJC collaborated on a joint investigation on Long Island, on a far smaller scale than Newsday’s but with similar results, starting in 2012. That investigation led to successful litigation and court-ordered settlements from landlords in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Newsday’s investigation demonstrated that the practice was far more widespread than our resources could show – thus making a major contribution to public understanding of this issue.  

The five-point plan issued today includes recommendations and background information to support the following core points:

  • Fully utilize the licensing power of the State to better regulate real estate licensees;
  • Create a well-resourced, proactive, and better coordinated fair housing enforcement strategy;
  • The real estate industry should take affirmative steps to ensure compliance with fair housing laws;
  • Affirmatively further fair housing in all housing and community development activities;
  • New York State should implement fair housing legislative initiatives, policy changes, and support for programs that expand access to housing opportunities in all neighborhoods.

The five-point plan addresses three key facts that are illuminated further in the plan: (1) The problem of racial discrimination in housing is systemic. The problem is not limited to the sales market or the real estate industry. The problem is not limited to Long Island. (2) Residential racial segregation on Long Island, throughout the larger New York City region, and in many parts of the State of New York creates a vicious cycle of inequality that continues to inflict serious harm on people and communities of color by locking African American people and other populations out of many opportunities. (3) Residential racial segregation reinforced by discriminatory housing practices has profound, and often perilous and lasting intergenerational consequences for the populations that are excluded and for the communities that are subsequently divided. 

The five-point plan is available HERE.

ERASE Racism is a regional civil rights organization based on Long Island that exposes and addresses the devastating impact of historical and ongoing structural racism, particularly in public school education and housing. It does so through research, policy advocacy, legal action, and educating and mobilizing the public – driving policy change at local, regional and statewide levels and through national coalitions. It has been recognized locally and nationally for its cutting-edge work.

The mission of the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen fair housing enforcement in the New York City region.