The Democratic-led state Senate on Monday approved a package of measures meant to combat discrimination in home buying and housing.
The bills came about after a blockbuster Newsday investigation found bias in real estate sales on Long Island. These measures, however, tackle issues advocates say are statewide issues.
“There is no place in New York for housing discrimination and predatory practices,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Buying a new home should be a special achievement in a person’s life without the risk of becoming a victim of abhorrent discrimination. I am proud of the Democratic Majority Conference for holding these hearings and issuing an extensive report that has led this continued swift action to end these discriminatory practices and hold bad actors accountable.”
The bills include provision for covert fair housing tests, implicit bias training for real estate brokers, compensatory damages for those who are victims of discrimination and the creation of an anti-discrimination housing fund.
Another bill would establish the state's obligation to further fair housing. And lawmakers approved a bill that would require realtors to and brokers to have their name and license number legibly written when they sign documents to make them easier to identify.
A surcharge fee would be charged for real estate broker or salesman license, with the proceeds used for fair housing tests. And there would be a standardized set of procedures for clients and brokers.
“I am very proud of this legislative package, which includes much needed reforms to ensure effective implementation and compliance with New York State’s fair housing laws," said Sen. Brian Kavanagh.
"The need for this legislation was evident during our hearings in response to Newsday’s Long Island Divided exposé, which detailed the very troubling and apparently widespread discriminatory practices that occurred on Long Island, and undoubtedly in other parts of the state. It is my hope that this legislation—and the administrative reforms we proposed in our recent investigation—will usher in a new era of equity and justice for homebuyers and renters, and transparency and accountability in the housing industry, for the benefit of all of our communities."