News Flash

County Executive

Posted on: November 25, 2019

Curran, County Legislature Announce Sweeping Action Against Housing Discrimination

2019-11-22 Housing Discrimination Press Conference-0261


MINEOLA, NY – In response to Newsday’s investigative project uncovering unacceptable housing discrimination throughout the County, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran today announced a sweeping plan to combat housing discrimination. The County Executive was today joined by County officials from both parties, and leaders from community and advocacy organizations including the NAACP, Long Island Housing Partnership, Long Island Fair Housing, Housing Help, and Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association.


“Newsday’s investigation uncovered an unacceptable reality that we must commit to reversing. In Nassau County, we are forging a historic, comprehensive, and bipartisan action plan to combat housing discrimination through increased enforcement, education, and community engagement. We will seize this opportunity to work together for lasting change,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. 


County Executive Curran today announced the following actions:


  • County Executive Curran has named Deputy County Attorney Errol E. Williams as Special Housing Counsel to be charged with coordination of the County’s action plan on housing discrimination. Williams most recently played a lead role in the County’s historic housing settlement reached in March. The County Executive made it a priority to name a qualified coordinator with deep understanding of housing discrimination while utilizing existing staff to perform this function.


  • The County Executive will issue a request for proposal (RFP) for legal services that will increase enforcement of and compliance with open housing laws through:
    • Enforcement of administrative proceedings
    • Plenary actions
    • Special investigations


  • The County Executive and the Legislature have agreed to increase staffing at the County Human Rights Commission, including the addition of an Investigator and an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to assist with the resolution of fair housing complaints. The County Executive has also directed a review of existing HRC forms and processes to ensure optimized facilitation of housing complaints and investigations.


  • County Executive Curran today established the Nassau County Fair Housing Advisory Board, a permanent County entity to be comprised of community stakeholders and advocates tasked with advising and providing the County with recommendations regarding the promotion of fair and equal housing policies. The Legislature will recommend participants.


  • County Executive Curran has directed her Administration to initiate a robust educational campaign, including workshops and forums designed to inform residents regarding housing rights and resources available to them. In the coming weeks, the County Executive will announce the first educational workshops, which will be spearheaded by the Human Rights Commission and Bishop Lionel Harvey, Deputy Director for Diversity and Community Engagement, together with the Office of Minority Affairs, Office of Hispanic Affairs, and the Office of Asian American Affairs.


  • County Executive Curran is announcing a new multimedia and multilingual public awareness campaign aimed at increasing awareness about the County’s commitment to and enforcement of fair housing laws.


  • The County Executive will proactively cooperate with federal and state authorities in any ongoing or future efforts to hold real estate brokers, property management firms, and lenders accountable regarding compliance with open and fair housing laws.


  • County Executive Curran has directed County agencies to engage Nassau County Fair Housing Committee Consortium members, comprised of towns and villages, to promote fair housing policies at the municipal level.


Previous Curran Administration initiatives on fair housing: 

 

  • Settled a decade-long litigation with one of the region’s leading affordable housing organizations, which included historic commitments to the promotion of affordable housing.


  • The County Executive has set aside County grant funds, received through the HUD HOME Investment Partnerships Program (one quarter) for the construction of mixed-income rental housing in high opportunity areas, such as those with ample access to transportation and high performing schools. The County continues to support funding applications for such projects made to New York State and other funding sources.


  • The County Executive has encouraged Nassau’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to encourage developers to increase the number of affordable units being built with incentive packages


  • Bringing vacant and abandoned homes (many ravaged by Sandy) back to life to create permanent affordable housing for our residents remains a top priority in Nassau County. Thanks to a successful Community Land Trust partnership with the Long Island Housing Partnership, newly-completed houses across the County are now being sold to homebuyers at affordable price points. The County has also developed a partnership with the Nassau County Land Bank for the disposition of County parcels for similar purposes.

 

“Nassau County must do everything within its power to hold those that engage in illegal and discriminatory practices accountable,” Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan M. Abrahams (D – Freeport) said. “By implementing a plan that emphasizes education, enforcement, and the knowledge of experts and advocates, Nassau County is taking a significant step toward a fairer housing market that celebrates diversity and a society that condemns bias wherever it exists.”


"Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable in Nassau County. Long Island is a diverse and welcoming community, and homebuyers should receive equal treatment regardless of their race,” said Nassau County Legislator Steve Rhoads (R – Bellmore).  I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and the Minority Affairs Committee to create an action plan to take on this important issue."


“To successfully confront a sordid state of affairs that has spanned several generations, we must engage in a frank dialogue that not only addresses shortcomings in the real estate industry but also recognizes the historic events that have led us to this moment and the role government has played,” Nassau County Legislator Siela A. Bynoe (D – Westbury) said. “This fair housing plan will protect home buyers and renters alike from racially discriminatory actions and serve as a catalyst for further reforms that will create true fairness and equity in our region.”


“During the course of Newsday's investigation, certain real estate agents were found to have made derogatory statements about communities like Elmont. However, my experience representing the Third Legislative District, which is filled with beautiful communities and outstanding schools, proves them wrong on a daily basis,” Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages (D – Valley Stream) said. “This fair housing plan makes it clear that we embrace equality, prioritize fairness and reject the racial animus that unjustly deflates home values in diverse communities."


"As a practicing attorney with more than 30 years of experience facilitating real estate transactions throughout New York State, I was dismayed to learn that the fears that clients and brokers have expressed to me through the years have evidently been validated by this investigation,” Nassau County Legislator Arnold W. Drucker (D – Plainview) said. “County Executive Curran's comprehensive fair housing action plan is a commendable step forward in our mission to dismantle generations of institutionalized discrimination that has plagued our region."


“When my husband and I were looking for a home, we chose Freeport because we knew that raising a family in a community rich with history and diversity would benefit our children. I wholeheartedly support County Executive Curran’s fair housing plan and believe it is an important step toward breaking a vicious cycle of discrimination that is not only illegal, but truly un-American,” Nassau County Legislator Debra Mulé (D – Freeport) said.



“We are encouraged to see that Nassau County is increasing its commitment to enforcement and education of fair housing laws, along with a broader approach to dealing with racism and housing discrimination in the community at large,” said Ian Wilder, Executive Director of Long Island Housing Services

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