State Watch

NY attorney general to investigate alleged Long Island housing discrimination

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) will investigate allegations of housing discrimination on Long Island following a Newsday report alleging numerous fair housing violations by brokering firms.

The Newsday report, the result of a three-year investigation, indicated that numerous firms steered undercover testers to Long Island neighborhoods aligning with their own race or ethnicity and allegedly imposing stricter conditions on nonwhite testers, including only allowing prospective buyers who secured mortgage pre-approval to view properties.

"The pattern of discrimination uncovered by Newsday's intrepid reporting raises significant concerns and calls for action," James said in a statement.

"I have directed the Civil Rights Bureau in my office to investigate these serious allegations and we encourage Long Island residents to report any instances of housing discrimination," she continued. "We will do everything in our power under the law to protect the civil rights of New Yorkers and ensure that no one is denied housing based on their personal background."

Both the federal Fair Housing Act and the New York State Human Rights Law generally bar agents from providing different services based on customers' race or ethnicity, or making statements about a community's racial makeup, according to James's office.

The investigation has also drawn calls for investigation from federal officeholders, including Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), who in a letter Tuesday asked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to investigate the allegations.

"The findings in this report suggest that these real estate agents have been perpetuating residential segregation and convey a disturbing pattern of housing discrimination throughout the region," they wrote, according to Newsday.

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