Before the recent protests and resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, I was asked by a group of Realtors to present a continuing education program on Fair Housing. I poured over the various laws in New York, particularly in Rockland and Westchester County to find the status of the law. With help from the Rockland County Division of Human Rights, I presented a fairly bland state of affairs to a mostly attentive group using hypothetical scenarios. Though I have dealt with some complaints over the years, as an attorney, I never really saw the how discrimination worked or operated in my communities. Until today. Today, I stumbled upon this fine piece of investigative journalism, and I commend all to read and watch the documentary.
To summarize, Newsday engaged the Fair Housing Justice Center in Long Island City, to help structure and implement testing and train testers, and then sent the results to two nationally recognized experts in fair housing standards to analyze the findings. The results are astounding.
By way of refresher, the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing related transactions because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or familial status. Many state and local laws also prohibit housing discrimination based on several additional protected classes. The Fair Housing Act applies to a wide variety of housing transactions, including rentals, sales, home mortgages, appraisals and homeowners insurance. Landlords, real estate agents, lenders, insurance companies and condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations must not discriminate because of one’s membership in a protected class.