Suffolk Fair Housing Task Force unveils recommendations to end housing discrimination
Suffolk County's Fair Housing Task Force unveiled a series of recommendations to lawmakers in an effort to end systemic racial segregation in housing practices.
"We took a broad look at what it would take to make fair housing more of a rule here in the county rather than an exceptional thing that happens in the county once in a while," says Elaine Gross, with ERASE Racism.
The 14-member task force was formed last year in response to Newsday's "Long Island Divided" investigation into discrimination in homebuying in 2019. Using undercover testers, Newsday's probe found evidence that some homebuyers may have been steered to certain neighborhoods based on race.
The task force's recommendations include:
-Funding an undercover fair housing testing program.
-Funding for administrative law judges to investigate housing discrimination complaints.
-Enhancing the county's Human Rights Commission by adding to the human rights law new protected classes of individuals--those with criminal convictions, who experts say face obstacles in finding housing, and those with limited English-speaking proficiency.
-Investigating towns and villages that receive Community Development Block Grant funding from the county for their compliance with fair housing laws.
"The American Dream is that every person gets to live where they want to live," says Ian Wilder, of Long Island Housing Services. "That's what I think we all believe in our heart this country is about. The changes we're talking about here mean moving towards that ideal."
Legislator Samuel Gonzalez, task force chair, is drafting legislation based on the recommendations.