A housing rights advocacy group called rental offices, some with national names, in a county outside New York City and asked property managers if they would accept a housing voucher for advertised units. If told no, the callers retained evidence and now allege discrimination.
WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – A law firm working with a housing rights advocacy group, the non-profit Housing Rights Initiative (HRI), conducted an investigation in Westchester County, New York, to see if property managers would accept housing vouchers for their rentals. If turned down, the advocates retained evidence of the denial and named the alleged offenders in a lawsuit filed this week.
The law firm behind the suit, Newman Ferrara, sued 88 New York City companies almost four months ago over the same issue. Some of the agents named in the lawsuits are associated with national companies, including names like Compass, Corcoran Group, Keller Williams, EXIT Realty and a Realogy-owned brand.
For the investigation, HRI “testers” would call property managers and say they were interested in a rental, and at some point during those phone calls, they’d ask if they could pay their rent with a Section 8 housing voucher. If told “no,” they would save a text message or record a phone call to be used as evidence for the planned case.
In a statement to Inman News, HRI founder and Executive Director Aaron Carr said the companies “explicitly and systematically refused to rent apartments to tenants who intend to pay their rent with government-provided rental assistance,” and that for “countless families across the country, there is no home, because real estate companies are refusing to rent to them.” Vox first reported on the lawsuit.
HRI provided examples of the alleged discrimination:
- In one case, the tester said she was a single mother when contacting a brokerage about a rental property. She asked about using a Section 8 voucher via text. In a responding text, which the tester saved using a screenshot, the property manager allegedly said, “The building does not accept housing vouchers.”
- In another case, a tester says she called a man identified as a broker and recorded the call. In the recording, the tester asks if she can use a Section 8 voucher, and the property manager replies, “They’re not allowing vouchers.”
HRI says the other case examples are similar.
Source: Inman News, July 1, 2021
© 2021 Florida Realtors®