The New York City Council voted on legislation that updates and strengthens the New York City Human Rights Law on July 26, which will protect domestic violence victims from housing discrimination. These changes go into effect immediately. Under these provisions, it is illegal for landlords and housing authorities to evict or deny housing applications on the basis of domestic violence victimization.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights  is responsible for the enforcement of this law and is actively working to raise awareness of these protections through social media, local news and public information sessions. “Too often, victims of domestic violence are evicted or prevented from renting apartments simply because they have been abused”, says City Council member Jumaane D. Williams who sponsored the legislation. She continued, “this is not only wrong, it’s horrifying.”

The new law will punish landlords and others who implement discriminatory leasing practices towards domestic violence victims and allows victims to terminate their leases if they feel they are living in an unsafe situation.

Too often, victims of intimate partner violence and abuse are punished for the crimes committed against them. According to the NY Women’s Equality Coalition, “The challenge of finding safe and affordable housing is only exacerbated by the fact that many victims are discriminated against, such as when landlords refuse to rent to a potential tenant who is identified as a victim of domestic violence. Nationally, 11 percent of evictions involve victims of domestic violence who are evicted due to abuse.”

This legislation will hopefully result in a reduction of the correlation between intimate partner violence and homelessness, as an estimated 63% of homeless women have experienced domestic violence.

For more information, you can follow the hashtag #SafeAtHomeNYC or visit NYC.gov/HumanRights.

Media Resources: The New York City Council Press Release 3/9/16; NYC Commission on Human Rights 7/26/16; New York City Patch 7/26/16; New York Women’s Equality Coalition 3/15; National Coalition for the Homeless 7/09

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