For Immediate Release
November 19, 2019
Contact: County Executive Press Office Press.Office@Suffolkcountyny.gov
Following Newsday’s Investigation ‘Long Island Divided’, County Executive Announces New Actions Designed to Increase Enforcement and Public Awareness
County Executive Outlines New Tools to Investigate Allegations of Housing Discrimination\
To File a Complaint Alleging Housing Discrimination, Suffolk County Residents Can Contact the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission at (631) 853-5480
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced new actions designed to combat alleged housing discrimination on Long Island following a three-year Newsdayinvestigation that determined evidence of disparate treatment of potential minority home buyers and minority communities on Long Island. Using paired testers as part of its investigation, Newsday found that a number of real estate agents avoided showing listings in many of Long Island’s minority communities to white individuals, whereas they were more inclined to show people of color listings within integrated communities.
“The results of the Newsday investigation are disturbing and unacceptable,” said County Executive Bellone. “We must come together as a region to develop and implement strategies that will effectively address housing discrimination on Long Island.”
The State Human Rights law prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics including sex, age, and race among others. In an effort to address alleged housing discrimination in Suffolk County, the County Executive proposed four actions to begin taking corrective action:
Conduct Ongoing Housing Discrimination Investigations
In order to take appropriate action, the County Executive intends to issue a Request for Proposals to select a qualified organization to partner with to ensure that any and all housing discrimination incidents are fully investigated against potential violators. Any complaint made to the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission can also be made to the Civil Rights Division of the New York State Attorney General’s Office or New York State Department of Human Rights.
New Yorkers who experience housing discrimination are urged to file a complaint with the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission by calling (631) 853-5480. Suffolk County residents can also file a complaint with the New York State Department of State Division of Human Rights online or (631) 952-6434 or by contacting the New York State Attorney General’s Office at (212) 416-8250.
Strengthening Human Rights Commission
The County Executive has authorized the hiring of an additional investigator for the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission for the purpose of examining alleged fair housing violations. Suffolk County has also issued a Request for Qualifications to contract with Administrative Law Judges who will conduct hearings regarding disputes including fair housing.
Convene Industry Stakeholders
The County Executive has begun reaching out to leading industry stakeholders including the Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR) to begin the process of identifying solutions that would help ensure better compliance of federal and New York state guidelines for its real estate agents.
Public Education and Training
The County Executive will help lead a consortium of members of the real estate community to better educate the public of their legal rights as it pertains to searching for housing rentals and/or ownership. This will better ensure that prospective buyers and/or renters understand and identify if they are the subject of discrimination.
According to New York State Real Property Law, real estate professionals are required to complete a total of 22.5 hours of continuing education, which shall include at least three hours of instruction concentrated in fair housing and discrimination. The County Executive proposes amending state law to require at least double the number of hours in the concentration of fair housing and discrimination, a review of the curriculum and compliance. In addition, the County Executive will be working with the State Legislature in the coming legislative session to develop a comprehensive bill of rights for potential homebuyers.