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Housing Watchdog Group: Racial Discrimination Still Exists in Westchester
A new study released today by Westchester Residential Opportunities (WRO) found that while inroads were made over the past six years, housing discrmination still exists in the lower Hudson Valley.
In 2005, WRO says 46.5% of tests conducted found discrimination in rental housing in Westchester. In the current round of testing, the percentage was down to 17.54%. Discrimination in Rockland was 34.6% and it was 14.3 percent in Putnam County.
The findings were released at a news conference hosted by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in White Plains.
The WRO report is based on an 18 month Fair Housing testing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The tests involved sending minorities and white people to various real estate offices, management companies and apartment complexes in five focus areas, Peekskill, Mount Kisco and the Sound Shore area in Westchester and throughout Rockland and Putnam Counties. Any inferior or unequal treatment of the minority tester was assumed to be based on racial or ethnic discrimination.
As a result of the tests, WRO has filed 4 complaints with HUD-certified agencies, three with the Rockland County Commission on Human Rights and one with the Westchester County Human Rights Commission. Those named in the complaints included one management company in New Rochelle, one real estate company in New City and two real estate companies in Pearl River.
Astorino commented on today's report saying, "Any discrimination is unacceptable. Westchester County will continue to support efforts by WRO and other housing agencies to educate realtors, management companies and the public about these important issues."
The Chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, Ken Jenkins echoed that sentiment, "Few things are more fundamental to success and happiness than having a safe place to live.I am encouraged to see advances in fair housing access in Westchester, however, as the study shows, there is much more work to be done."
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