Grants to finance dedicated disposal programs Discriminatory housing practices across New York
New York – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced a $ 4.5 million grant to the Eliminating Barriers to Housing in New York (EBHNY) program, which aims to eliminate discriminatory and improve the overall housing stock in the state.
EBHNY is a two-year pilot program that will advance Attorney General James’ priority of making housing safe, healthy and affordable throughout the state. EBHNY funds will be made available to Qualified Fair Housing Organizations (OQPS) which operate as full service fair housing programs.
“The last thing New Yorkers should worry about in these difficult times is discrimination in housing based on factors such as race, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or age.” Said Attorney General James. “EBHNY will remove barriers to housing choice across the state by investigating and eliminating sources of discrimination and funding the necessary security changes. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners across the state to ensure equitable housing for all New Yorkers. “
Up to 80 percent of the grants awarded by the EBHNY to OPSQs will be used for surveys on systemic testing and control of housing and fair loans, as well as to support education and awareness efforts. The purpose of surveys and tests is to expose systemic discrimination based on factors such as race, national origin, disability or source of income. The remaining 20 percent of the grant funds will be used to enable QFHOs to assist income-eligible persons with disabilities and families with children by removing any physical or health barriers in current housing situations.
There are currently six QFHOs eligible for EBHNY funds: CNY Fair Housing, the Fair Housing Justice Center, Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), Legal Assistance of Western New York, Long Island Housing Services and Westchester Residential Opportunities. In total, the funds are intended to serve 30 counties in the state, including areas that are currently “fair housing deserts”.
Enterprise Community Partners – a national community development intermediary specializing in affordable housing – oversees the EBHNY program. Enterprise will conduct individual quarterly audits with each of the QFHOs, as well as monthly calls between QFHOs and the Office of the Attorney General to discuss progress.
“Enterprise Community Partners is proud to partner with the New York State Attorney General’s office to support the critical work of Fair Housing organizations across the state,” said Judi Kende, vice president and leader of New York market, Enterprise Community Partners. “Communities vulnerable to discrimination and disinvestment in housing, including people with disabilities and people of color, will be the hardest hit by the impact of COVID-19. In these times of emergency, the expertise of these fair housing organizations is invaluable to build on our advocacy on behalf of vulnerable populations. We look forward to working with these key partners to modify the units, remove barriers to housing choice and expand access to safe and healthy housing for all protected classes in New York State. “
“HOME salutes the efforts of the New York State Attorney General’s office to enforce housing choices and remove barriers to fair housing in our communities,” said DeAnna Eason, Executive Director of HOME. “We are delighted to work with this state-wide coalition to meet the critical housing needs of all New Yorkers. In collaboration with our partners across the state, the EBHNY program will provide essential resources to combat discrimination in housing and educate individuals about their housing rights. The EBHNY program will reinforce the main mission of HOME and will give residents of western New York greater access to resources to combat discrimination in housing. It is now more important than ever to have a rigorous application of fair housing laws to ensure that this current health crisis does not become a housing crisis. “
“During this time of uncertainty, fair housing application and education is necessary to protect the rights of all New Yorkers,” said Sally Santangelo, executive director of CNY Fair Housing. “As such, CNY Fair Housing is grateful for this opportunity to provide increased fair housing services in our current service area and in parts of the state that were previously unserved.” We are delighted that this new partnership with the Attorney General’s office will help protect housing rights in central and north New York. “
Each OQPS can request at least $ 666,700 – totaling $ 4 million for the six recipients over a two-year period. The additional $ 500,000 would be made available on a competitive basis for OQSs to conduct education and law enforcement activities outside of their service areas. With these funds, the EBHNY program aims for each QFHO to perform between 70 and 100 tests per year. In addition, QFHOs will meet annually – virtually or in person – to share best practices, as well as connect with other industry experts.
Funding for this initiative comes from a settlement between the Attorney General’s Office and the Royal Bank of Scotland, which deals with the fault of the bank that contributed to the housing crisis.