The recent Long Island Divided investigation has caused local social justice groups to come together and clinch down on the issue of housing discrimination. During the meeting, they discussed several ways the community can step up and help combat community segregation. Here are five concrete actions on how to do this:
1. Voice your concerns to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
ERASE Racism has a link available here for you to voice your concerns about the potential rollback of Disparate Impact, which refers to policies or practices that discriminate against minorities in subtle ways. This has been in the Fair Housing Act for over 51 years and is at risk. “A lot of times, you don’t know you’ve been discriminated against,” said the Founder of ERASE Racism, Elaine Gross, during the town hall meeting. “When I lived in Massachusetts, the person [realtor] was very nice to me. I thought, ‘Oh what a nice man,’ as he was lying through his teeth. People are really living in fantasy land when they insist on saying we don’t really have a problem anymore; it’s all about income.”
2. Tell your story if you feel you’ve been discriminated against.
You can reach out to the New York State Attorney General’s Office Civil Rights Bureau with any information or experiences you may have. To assist in the Attorney General Letitia JamesLetitia Jamesinvestigation, people have been encouraged to call (800)-771-7755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. “The things that we look for are to remediate past harm for people who were discriminated against, but also look at ways we can force a change in the systems that led to discrimination,” said the Chief Deputy for Social Justice Meghan Faux during the meeting.
3. Make sure the children are educated.
Everything starts with our youth. There are several programs dedicated to educating and empowering the youth. ERASE Racism has a student task force dedicated to helping students develop their leadership skills and build diverse alliances. They also show students how to address school and community segregation. The Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk (EOC) also offers affordable housing programs for first-time homeowners no matter what age.
4. Talk to people about the study and help gain allies.
We’re not going to learn from each other if we don’t talk to each other. As a minority, you don’t have to be a walking, talking history encyclopedia preaching and teaching everyone you meet, but not much will be accomplished alone. At the recent town hall, people of different races, backgrounds and religions were present. We can all learn something from someone who looks different than us and if we share our experiences with others understanding and progress will occur.
5. Research the different fair housing groups on the island.
There are many organizations on Long Island alone that tackle discrimination in housing. They can be found below:
Long Island Housing Partnerships
Recently Urban League Long Island President, Theresa Sanders, Gross, Fred Frieberg of the Fair Housing Justice Center and Johnnie Mae Alston, one of the Black testers in the Newsday investigation, spoke during the Senate hearing and continued to shine a light on the issue.
So far as a result of Newsday’s investigation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new regulations to tackle the tenacious issue. These include making sure realtors know and notify sellers, buyers, renters and landlords about fair housing laws as well as display them prominently. It also states that entities that provided training and instruction on fair housing must provide a video and audio recording.
You can watch the full stream of the town hall discussion here.