In a Last-Minute Budget Victory, New York Bans Source of Income Discrimination Statewide

Budget agreement bans housing discrimination based on non-wage income 

NEW YORK (April 3, 2019) – As National Fair Housing Month begins, advocates and New Yorkers facing housing discrimination are celebrating after New York’s newly signed $175 billion state budget included a provision to prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants based on lawful source of income (SOI), a critical issue impacting more than 600,000 New Yorkers who receive some form of supplemental income. New York State will amend its human rights law to include SOI as a protected class, meaning renters statewide who use Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, veterans’ benefits, disability benefits, and other forms of non-wage income to pay rent will be able to live in the homes and neighborhoods they choose. Governor Cuomo announced his support for SOI legislation during National Fair Housing Month in 2018, and in this year’s budget negotiations he worked alongside Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley and Senator Kevin Parker to include it in the final state budget.
The Statewide Source of Income Coalition, led by Enterprise, ERASE Racism, the Fair Housing Justice Center and the New York Housing Conference, convened a diverse network of more than 110 organizations to advocate for an end to SOI discrimination over the last year. 

In a statement, the Coalition said, “No New Yorker with the means to pay rent should be denied the opportunity to choose where they live. Thanks to the leadership of and collaboration between Governor Cuomo, Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley, and Senator Kevin Parker, that dream will become reality for every individual and family in our state. We also thank Assembly members Latoya Joyner and David Weprin for their support and commitment to this cause. This is an incredible victory that will have an immediate positive impact for some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.”

“Too many New Yorkers in my district and around the state face the possibility of homelessness simply because landlords do not approve of where their income comes from,” said New York State Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley. “I am proud to stand with the Governor and my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate to put an end to source of income discrimination once and for all so that New Yorkers receiving public assistance can live in the homes they choose.”

“New Yorkers should be able to live in the homes they can afford, whether or not their rent money is supported by Section 8 vouchers, child support payments, disability benefits, or any other source of legitimate income,” said New York State Senator Kevin S. Parker. “This issue was too important to go unrecognized in this year’s budget, and I am pleased that we have come together to support vulnerable New Yorkers by making source of income protections part of the state’s human rights law.” 

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “In New York State, we are fortunate to have a Governor who has championed upholding and advancing the values of the Fair Housing Act. With this budget, the State of New York outlawed source of income discrimination and expanded housing protections to vulnerable New Yorkers. It’s this kind of leadership by the Governor that has made New York State a national model in battling discrimination and securing equality for all New Yorkers.”

The SOI decision will directly impact 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. 

Some municipalities, such as New York City, Syracuse and Buffalo, already have laws banning income discrimination in housing, but they are not uniform and limited in scope. The lack of statewide SOI protections impacts some of New York State’s most vulnerable populations, including the elderly, persons living with disabilities, domestic violence survivors, persons who are experiencing homelessness, families with children, ethnic and racial minorities and veterans. SOI discrimination drives poverty and segregation by restricting low-income families to certain areas, often with higher crime and underperforming schools. SOI discrimination is also often used as a proxy for illegal discrimination based on disability, familial status or race. Without SOI protections, landlords can legally refuse to accept their money and deny them a home.

For more information on source of income discrimination, click here

About the Statewide Source of Income Coalition 
The Statewide Source of Income Coalition, originally organized in 2016 by ERASE Racism, is a vast network of advocates that supports amending the New York State Human Rights Law and expanding the protected classes to include "Lawful Source of Income." Currently led by Enterprise Community Partners, the Coalition continues to ensure the housing choice of all New Yorkers. Follow the #BanIncomeBiasNY campaign on Twitter at @banincomebiasny.

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