The mission of the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster more open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws in the New York City region.
- EXPAND HOUSING CHOICE: Work to ensure that all people, including populations whose housing choices have historically been restricted or are currently limited, are better able to access and enjoy the full range of housing opportunities and communities that exist in the region. Place matters. Expanding housing choice can increase access to opportunities, reduce inequalities, and enable people to enjoy the social, professional, and economic benefits of integrated living.
- AFFIRMATIVELY FURTHER FAIR HOUSING TO CREATE MORE OPEN, ACCESSIBLE, AND INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES: Reduce residential racial segregation, promote equitable development including in communities that have been historically disinvested or continue to be deprived of resources, amenities, benefits, and/or services, and foster the creation of more open, accessible, and inclusive communities. Residential segregation, concentrated poverty, and housing discrimination contributes to increased homelessness, fuels gentrification and displacement, and nourishes a host of other harmful social, educational, and economic inequalities. Efforts to affirmatively further fair housing should be aimed at dismantling barriers to housing choice, promoting residential integration, and repairing the harm that has been and continues to be inflicted on people and communities of color.
- STRENGTHEN FAIR HOUSING ENFORCEMENT: Ensure that populations facing housing discrimination are adequately protected and that fair housing laws are vigorously enforced. The current passive, largely complaint-responsive, and under-resourced approach to government enforcement fails to document subtle and systemic forms of housing discrimination and leaves some of the most vulnerable and marginalized populations unprotected. A more pro-active, systemic, and well-resourced enforcement approach, with testing as the centerpiece, can more effectively document and eliminate discriminatory housing practices and achieve greater compliance with fair housing laws.
2022-2023 POLICY PRIORITIES
Strengthening Enforcement of Fair Housing Laws
Increased Engagement and Funding for Testing and Fair Housing Enforcement: We will advocate to increase local, state, and federal government engagement in and funding for systemic fair housing testing and other enforcement activities.
Full Enforcement of Accessibility Requirements: We back stronger regulation of adult homes and assisted living programs by local, state, and federal government agencies. We will advocate for proactive state and local government inspection of construction plans and new developments for compliance with local, state, and federal accessibility requirements, and that state and local governments abandon “self-certification” by architects, engineers, or developers.
Strengthen Vicarious Liability in the NYSHRL: We encourage New York State to explicitly list vicarious liability as a theory of liability by amending § 2. Section 296 of the executive law. This will ensure that owners of buildings and real estate agencies can be held appropriately accountable for the actions of their agents, which will help to facilitate systemic change and increase compliance with the law.
Champion Co-op Disclosure Laws: We urge the enactment of state and local “Co-op Disclosure” laws, which would require housing cooperatives to provide upon request, in writing, the reason for rejecting a prospective buyer/renter.
Eliminating Housing Discrimination
Add “Arrest or Conviction Record” to State, City, and Local Laws: We support including “arrest or conviction record” as a protected characteristic in housing discrimination provisions in the state, city, and local laws.
Fight Credit Discrimination: We will advocate for the passage of legislation that will prohibit residential landlords from automatically denying applicants based on their credit history or score.
Improve Homeowner and Tenant Protections: We support the enactment of state and local prohibitions of deceptive, predatory, and/or unfair practices that have a discriminatory effect in the rental and sales market, such as predatory evictions or the non-renewal of residential leases.
Encourage the passage of a Federal Source of Income Law: We support the enactment of federal law to protect millions of Americans from experiencing illegal housing discrimination based on lawful source of income, including housing vouchers and other government benefits.
Fostering Inclusive Communities
Advance a Statewide “Equitable Share” Housing Plan: We seek the enactment of a statewide “Equitable Share” legislative housing plan, which would mandate every community to ensure that at least 10% of its existing housing stock is affordable.
Establish a New York State Zoning Appeals Board: We support legislation that would create a Zoning Appeals Board with the authority to override local zoning laws that are discriminatory or present a barrier to the development of affordable housing.
Expand Housing Mobility Assistance Programs: We encourage the expansion of mobility assistance programs, to assist housing voucher holders access housing opportunities in well-resourced neighborhoods and communities.
Legalize and Increase Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs): We uplift the expansion of housing supply through the legalization and increase of ADUs. We support ADU legislation that will prioritize the inclusion of fair housing provisions and provide assistance to bring current unregulated illegal accessory dwelling units into compliance and up to safety standards.
Link Fair Housing Advocacy to School Integration: We advocate for more targeted fair housing enforcement in areas that have well-resourced or high-performing schools so that increased housing opportunities are opened to people of color.
Examples of Policy Work
Below are examples of some of the ways FHJC has been working to advance these policy priorities:
- The FHJC and Enterprise Community Partners collaborated to convene a Regional Affordable and Fair Housing Roundtable to explore housing issues across the region and find policy areas of common concern. Click here to learn more about the work of the Roundtable. Click here to download the Roundtable’s policy agenda, “Closing the Divide: Creating Equitable, Inclusive and Affordable Communities.”
- The FHJC is a member of the Alliance for School Integration and Desegregation (ASID), whose mission is to advocate for racial and socioeconomic New York City city-wide school desegregation and integration. Click here to read ASID’s Policy Agenda. Click here to read the FHJC’s public testimony on “Diversity in New York City Schools,” presented by FHJC’s former Policy Coordinator Chanera Pierce to the NYC Council’s Education Committee on December 7, 2017. You can also learn more about ASID by visiting https://www.nycasid.com/.
- The FHJC advocated for, and is supporting, New York City’s efforts to push forward with the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) process. Click here to read the FHJC’s public testimony to the NYC Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, presented by FHJC’s former Policy Coordinator Chanera Pierce on April 10, 2018.
- The FHJC has submitted comments in response Notices of Proposed Rulemaking from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Read the FHJC’s comments in response to HUD’s August 16, 2018, Federal Register Notice, “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: Streamlining and Enhancements.” Read the FHJC’s comments in response to HUD’s June 20, 2018 Federal Register Notice, “Reconsideration of HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard.” Also read the FHJC’s comments in response to HUD’s May 23, 2018 Federal Register Notice, “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: Withdrawal of the Assessment Tool for Local Governments.”
- The FHJC advocated at the city-level for a cooperative disclosure law, which would require co-ops to identify and disclose, in a timely manner, the specific reason or reasons for rejecting an applicant. Click here to read the FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg’s public testimony on this law from November 8, 2017.
- The FHJC has provided public comment, both as an individual organization and as part of a larger network of fair housing groups, on the city- and state-wide Qualified Allocation Plans (QAPs). Click here to read the FHJC’s comments to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Click here to read the New York State Fair Housing Network’s comments on the two of the State’s QAP plans to New York State’s Department of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).