New York Bans Source of Income Discrimination Statewide
Enterprise applauds New York State’s commitment to protect tenants from housing discrimination based on lawful source of income (SOI). New Yorkers are celebrating after the newly signed $175 billion state budget included this provision, by amending the New York State human rights law to include source of income as a protected class.
Source of Income Discrimination: A Driver of Poverty and Segregation
SOI discrimination is a critical issue impacting over 600,000 New Yorkers who receive some form of supplemental income, like Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers or veterans benefits to pay their rent. Landlords have routinely rejected tenants using non-wage income, often as a proxy for illegal discrimination based on disability, familial status or race.
This discrimination drives poverty and segregation by restricting low-income families to certain areas, often with higher crime rates and underperforming schools. While some municipalities in New York, including New York City, already had SOI protections in place, these laws were inconsistent and often limited in scope.
In December 2017, Enterprise Community Partners, ERASE Racism, the Fair Housing Justice Center and the New York Housing Conference, convened the Statewide Source of Income Coalition, a diverse network of more than 110 organizations to advocate for statewide protections for SOI.
This February, following his departmental bill in support of SOI protections during the 2018 legislative session, Governor Andrew Cuomo reaffirmed his support for SOI legislation in his 2019 State of the State Address. Working with state legislators, SOI protections were included in the final state budget on April 1.
The Impact of Source of Income Protections
Statewide SOI protections are a huge win for fair housing advocates across New York State. The decision will directly impact hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers like Elizabeth Barnes, a Buffalo resident who ended up in a homeless shelter with her daughter after a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis forced her into early retirement.
Enterprise thanks Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Kevin Parker, Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie and Assemblyman Walter T. Mosely for their leadership on this issue and ensuring that all New Yorkers will be able to live in the housing and communities of their choice.
Enterprise looks forward to continuing its work with New York State to ensure that this legislation is coupled with adequate enforcement.