NEW YORK (CBS New York) – On Wednesday, housing advocates will release never-before-seen data alleging rampant discrimination against New Yorkers on housing assistance.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman has an exclusive look at the report and why advocates argue it exacerbates the city’s homeless crisis.
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A woman named Sophia, who asked to remain anonymous, has notebooks full of apartments in New York that she says she was rejected after applying for her rental assistance voucher.
“As soon as they hear good, they think you’re on public assistance, that you’re a drug addict…and that’s a shame because not everyone is,” she said.
She had hoped a state rental voucher would get her out of the women’s shelter in Queens where she lived with her two daughters, but Sophia couldn’t find a landlord who would take it.
“So many disappointments. So many, ‘Oh no, we don’t accept vouchers,'” she said. “They don’t want children, it would be too noisy. It was always one thing after another.
This is called income discrimination, and it is illegal.
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CBS2 got an exclusive look at a new report from housing advocates detailing hundreds of cases of New Yorkers facing the same discrimination as Sophia.
“The fact that discrimination based on source of income is still so prevalent and still creates such a barrier to accessing housing keeps people homeless longer,” said Amy Blumsack of Neighbors Together.
Sophia reported the landlords to the Municipal Human Rights Commission, which is supposed to be the watchdog for this stuff.
“Little by little, less staff, no one called me back,” she said.
The report argues that cuts to the City Commission are allowing too many homeless New Yorkers to fall through the cracks and remain on the streets.
“They need a lot more funding and a lot more resources. The capacity they have is not enough to meet the need for the amount of income source discrimination that is occurring,” Blumsack said.
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In a statement, a spokesperson for the town hall said in particular: “The Municipal Human Rights Commission takes every call and every case seriously” and has “implemented a protocol to intervene in situations where landlords refuse vouchers, usually within 48 hours”.