U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, alongside a group of colleagues led by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), announced legislation to address the affordable housing crisis and fight housing discrimination. The Housing Fairness Act of 2020 would allocate $735 million to increase funding to enforce programs under the Fair Housing Act that prevent discrimination in housing, reduce segregation, and provide additional funds for the Fair Housing Initiative Program. Over the years, the Trump administration has weakened fair housing protections and repealed efforts to eliminate segregation.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated the ongoing housing crisis in New York, where decades of discriminatory practices have harmed communities of color and their ability to access safe and affordable housing,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Trump Administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development has repeatedly taken steps to undermine fair housing laws that have resulted in communities of color and LGBTQ Americans continuing to be victimized by discriminatory practices. The Housing Fairness Act will reaffirm the commitment to fair housing for all Americans by making much needed investments and improvements to these critical programs that prevent discrimination in the housing sector.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, almost 92,000 people in New York State were experiencing homelessness but the pandemic has caused homelessness across the state to skyrocket. In New York City, roughly 1 in every 100 New Yorkers is homeless — that’s nearly 80,000 men, women and children. In Syracuse, 40% of residents in the highest racially and ethnically concentrated neighborhoods live below the poverty line, a factor of Onondaga County’s rank as the second-worst community with racial income disparities in the state. Central New York’s map still reflects patterns of redlining that have persisted from the 1930s. The Housing Fairness Act of 2020 will reverse President Trump’s 2018 efforts to rescind the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, which requires local communities to create action plans to reduce segregation and increase equitable housing distribution.
Senator Gillibrand has been a consistent leader in the fight for fair housing policies. She has helped deliver $800,000 in funding to fight housing discrimination in upstate New York in compliance with the Fair Housing Act, provided over $100 million to organizations combatting New York’s homelessness, and advocated for rent assistance and relief for New Yorkers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the text of the bill here.