New York Attorney General Launches Fair Housing Tester Program
New York Attorney General Letitia James is launching a program to fund fair housing testers across the state. The program will use undercover testers to determine if fair housing laws are being followed in New York. The program will include responding to complaints about housing bias, advocating for those who have faced discrimination, and enforcing fair housing laws, according to the public notice issued last week.
Grants of up to $250,000 will be awarded to nonprofits and local government agencies to help respond to complaints about housing bias and enforcing fair housing laws. The grants will also be used to pay and train testers.
Governor Kathy Hochul expanded a similar fair housing testing program this year. The program is operated through New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s Fair and Equitable Housing Office and expands the pilot testing program established by the office in 2021. Hochul’s $2.2 million expansion funds six nonprofits to use undercover testers to act as homebuyers and renters.
The funding for the Attorney General’s program comes from license fees added under a change to state law in 2021. The New York Department of State started collecting a $30 surcharge from brokers and $10 surcharge from agents when issuing or renewing licenses, which goes into an antidiscrimination fund. Some of the money in the fund also came from penalties against real estate professionals who allegedly committed housing discrimination.