COUNCIL VOTES TO PROTECT LOW-INCOME RENTERS FROM DISCRIMINATION
January 30, 2007 – At today’s Stated Council meeting, the members of the New York City Council will vote on legislation to ensure full opportunity for New Yorkers with limited incomes to obtain affordable housing by prohibiting discrimination against tenants based on lawful source of rent payment. This legislation will help maximize the use of available Section 8 vouchers and help low-income families access safe and permanent housing.
PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION IN HOUSING BASED ON SOURCE OF INCOME.
The Council will vote to prohibit discrimination against prospective tenants based on lawful source of income, protecting New Yorkers from housing discrimination and helping those with limited incomes find and maintain affordable housing by maximizing the use of Section 8 vouchers or other forms of governmental rent payment in the City. This vote comes after nearly a year of working with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), landlord and tenant advocacy groups to improve the administration of the Section 8 voucher programs.
“With the rising cost of housing, it’s critical that we take every possible step to preserve and increase access to affordable housing, and this legislation continues the Council’s efforts to do just that,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This legislation, thanks to the hard work of the Council, ACORN and other housing groups, will not only increase access for people eligible for Section 8 vouchers to affordable housing, it will fully protect an individual’s right to housing, regardless of their financial circumstances.”
“As difficult as it is to find affordable housing in New York City, it is significantly harder to find an apartment with a Section 8 voucher,” said General Welfare Committee Chair Bill de Blasio. “This legislation will help maximize available Section 8 vouchers and help low-income families access the housing they are eligible for and desperately need.”
Understanding that small landlords may have difficulty with the administrative burden that can come with the Section 8 program, the legislation exempts landlords who own five or fewer units. However, rent controlled tenants who reside in these small properties would come under the protection of the law. The law applies to all housing accommodations, regardless of the number of units in each, of anyone who owns at least at least one property of six or more units.
A study released by ACORN NY in April of 2007 revealed that of 122 available studios and one bedroom apartments within section 8 limits listed on Craigslist, The Daily News or The New York Times classifieds, only 16 of the owners surveyed would accept Section 8 vouchers. In January of 2007, Mayor Bloomberg announced that 22,000 new Section 8 vouchers would be made available in New York City by the federal government, greatly increasing the number of low-income residents who can afford an apartment. This protective legislation will help maximize the use of available Section 8 vouchers and help low-income families access the housing for which they are eligible.