Modified: August 9, 2018 1:51pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Executive Director DeAnna Eason, Erie County Fair Housing Partnership Chairman Chris Hull and other local supporters opposed to housing discrimination held a press conference today as part of this morning’s Erie County Fair Housing Partnership meeting that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and discussed the recently passed Erie County Fair Housing Law.
The local legislation, which was signed into law by Poloncarz on May 22, incorporates the same protections as the federal and state fair housing laws while also prohibiting discrimination based on gender, identity, immigration and citizenship status, and source of income.
“The Erie County Fair Housing Law is something my administration worked on for two years that expands the existing state and federal anti-discrimination housing laws that are already on the books to include important protections for source of income and immigration and citizen status,” said Poloncarz. “There is no reason that prospective renters of a property who receive some type of Social Services assistance and utilize low-income housing vouchers should be denied a place to live. I thank the nine members of the Erie County Legislature who approved the local legislation, which makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against prospective tenants just because they receive government subsidies or are not U.S. citizens. I also applaud the many supporters of this law we have here in Western New York, which includes property owners and our community partners at HOME and other local civil rights agencies. This helps make it clear to the public that there should be no barrier to holding discriminating property owners accountable for discriminatory behavior.”
The new local law also calls for the creation of a five-member Fair Housing Board that will hold hearings and be able to refer verified cases of housing discrimination to the Erie County Attorney’s Office for further investigation and possible prosecution.
“This is landmark legislation that assures that housing providers will no longer be able to deny prospective tenants access to safe and affordable housing merely because they receive rental assistance, disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income, veteran’s benefits, or other government subsidies and lawful non-wage income,” said Eason. “We now have a local law that is consistent with what the federal government and the state government demand and clearly bans discrimination throughout Erie County on the basis of one’s gender identity, immigration status and lawful source of income.”
“The Erie County Fair Housing Partnership is thrilled that County Executive Poloncarz persevered and helped make this local law become a reality,” said Hull. “Source of income discrimination unfortunately occurs throughout Erie County and it results in residential segregation. This law supports communities here in Western New York who remain committed to affirmatively furthering fair housing and having uniform county-wide fair housing standards to easily refer to will hopefully eliminate any uncertainty among local realtors and providers of housing who may do business or own properties in different towns and villages located within Erie County.”
For more information about the Erie County Fair Housing Law or to report suspected housing discrimination, call (716) 854-1400.