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City vows to protect immigrants as feds move on public housing ban

New York landlords who discriminate against immigrants could face prosecution, the city warned this week.

“There are a range of protections against discrimination in housing, including the federal Fair Housing Act and the New York City Human Rights Law, among others,” said Alicia McCauley, spokeswoman for the city’s Commission of Human Rights.

“Both the Fair Housing Act and the NYC Human Rights Law prohibit discrimination on the basis of national origin and race, and the Human Rights Law also specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status.”

She said landlords who flout the law could be ordered to approve a housing application or lease renewal and fined up to $250,000.

The warning comes after the city and the Real Estate Board of New York opposed a federal plan to ban anyone who can’t verify their immigration status from living in public housing.

The proposed immigration reform regulation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would also apply to undocumented immigrants living in a market-rate apartment with a federal rental subsidy, even if their child or other family members are eligible for assistance. 

“Evicting families with undocumented members out of public housing is inhumane and would have a severe impact locally,” REBNY’s new president Jim Whelan said earlier this month.

An estimated 11,000 people, including 3,000 children would be affected in New York City.

According to McCauley, if a renter holds a Section 8 voucher, the government has already determined he is eligible for government assistance. In that case, a landlord may not conduct an independent review or ask for proof of status.

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