The New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report, Racial Discrimination and Eviction Policies and Enforcement in New York, following a study that involved a series of panel discussions and periods of public comment. During this study, the Committee heard testimony and received written statements from individuals impacted by evictions, researchers, academics, advocates, legal scholars, and government officials.
Through the testimony they received, the Committee identified significant themes and highlighted recommendations for the Commission’s consideration. Significant themes identified include factors that impact evictions, chaotic housing court practices, the need for legal representation in eviction proceedings, the need for eviction prevention efforts, and the need to strengthen and enforce current evictions-related laws in order to reduce the demonstrated disparate impact of evictions on communities of color nationally and in New York State, Albany, Buffalo, and New York City.
The Committee also heard substantial testimony on the need for additional research and data to inform efforts to monitor for and address discrimination. Most of the testimony the Committee received focused on the disparate impact of current eviction policies and practices on communities of color versus intentional discriminatory actions on the part of landlords.
The report includes recommendations directed to the Commission for the President and Congress; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; New York State Governor, Legislature, and the Office of Court Administration; and the Mayors and City Councils of Albany, Buffalo, and New York City, with a goal of helping address the Committee’s concerns related to the testimony they received.
Chair Bryanne Hamill said: “We are very grateful to the many experts and members of the public who provided valuable insight regarding the important and urgent civil rights implications of race in evictions. I hope we can all commit to promoting racial equity in housing and evictions by adopting the recommendations in our report, which include passing right to counsel and good cause eviction laws, implementing proven eviction prevention strategies, strengthening enforcement of fair housing and human rights laws, and recognizing housing as a basic human right while addressing systemic racism that contributed to such disparate impact on New York’s communities of color.”