Undercover Investigation Alleges NYC’s Biggest Real Estate Brokers Are Discriminating Against Low-Income NYers


Lots of New York Metropolis’s most dominant actual property firms are illegally discriminating in opposition to low-income residents who depend on rental help, in line with the findings of a year-long undercover investigation launched on Monday.

Led by the Housing Rights Initiative, the sweeping investigation recognized 88 landlords and brokerages that allegedly discriminated in opposition to tenants looking for residences with Part 8 vouchers, which offer federal monetary help to assist low-income residents cowl a part of their hire.

The nonprofit watchdog deployed covert investigators as candidates, recording practically 500 cellphone conversations with landlords and their brokers — together with Compass Inc., the Corcoran Group, and Century 21. When these in any other case certified “testers” talked about their Part 8 voucher, the actual property professionals ended the dialog 48 % of the time, in line with HRI.

In a single name recorded final April, an investigator inquiring a couple of Cobble Hill studio house was allegedly knowledgeable by a consultant of Compass: “No we do not do Part 8 Vouchers on this constructing.” One other dealer at Jan Reynolds Actual Property allegedly stated on three separate events {that a} tenant with a voucher wouldn’t qualify for an Higher West Facet constructing, claiming there was “not a hope in a hell.”

Reached by cellphone, Jan Reynolds, the agency’s solely worker, maintained that she had by no means stated such a factor to a Part 8 tenant, partly as a result of she solely rents “fairly excessive” residences that low-income tenants cannot afford. Notified by Gothamist that the conversations had been recorded, she replied: “Okay, no matter.” Compass declined to remark.

The findings had been outlined in a federal lawsuit filed on Monday that accuses the actual property firms of a discriminatory apply that disproportionately impacts Black and Hispanic New Yorkers, who make up 82% of voucher holders within the 5 boroughs. In lots of instances, the burden of voucher discrimination falls heaviest on those that are attempting to depart the town’s shelters system.

At a press convention on Monday, Nancy Padilla, who spent near twenty years in metropolis shelters, stated that steady housing remained elusive even after receiving a voucher. “Regardless of my hardest efforts and dedication to discovering an house, each time a landlord came upon I had a housing voucher they’d flip me away, although I used to be certified,” she stated.

The investigation additionally discovered that the rejections had been extra pronounced in prosperous white neighborhoods, suggesting that the apply has compounded racial segregation, in line with Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez. The Brooklyn consultant vowed on Monday to re-introduce laws banning voucher discrimination on the federal stage.

A metropolis legislation handed in 2008 — pushed by then-Councilman Invoice de Blasio — already prevents renters from being denied an house due to the way in which they pay hire. Nonetheless, landlords have routinely flouted that legislation, elevating questions in regards to the metropolis’s dedication to enforcement.

The NYC Fee on Human Rights, which gives oversight on the metropolis stage, has simply three individuals in its earnings discrimination unit, the Instances reported.

A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Workplace advised Gothamist that the Fee had assessed over $1.2 million in damages and penalties for source-of-income discrimination. “They proceed to aggressively examine and prosecute landlords and brokers to win justice for complainants,” the spokesperson, Laura Feyer, added.

Aaron Carr, the founding father of HRI, stated that investigation proved the necessity for a extra proactive method to stopping widespread voucher discrimination in New York Metropolis.

“This investigation didn’t goal anybody actual property firm, it focused a complete actual property sector,” Carr stated. “Our aim right here is easy: to get actual property firms to desert their discriminatory housing practices and to comply with the rattling legislation.”