Our Editorial Spotlight guests 10 a.m. Thursday, from Westchester Residential Opportunities Inc., to discuss the group’s latest report on fair housing in Westchester: Geoffrey Anderson, executive director; Andrea Klausner, deputy director; and Marlene Zarfes, fair housing director.
We wrote about the group’s cringe-worthy findings in an editorial Tuesday. You can watch the session live at lohud.com/editorialspotlight. The bottom line from the WRO survey, which involved dispatching faux white, black and Hispanic “testers” out into communities: When blacks and Hispanics try to access the housing market in some Westchester communities, they are likelier to receive discriminatory treatment than fair treatment, even where they have superior buyer profiles.
Richard Haggerty, CEO of Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, declined our invitation to join our discussion, citing a meeting in Albany. However, he addressed the findings in a statement: “Our Association of Realtors has always supported complete adherence to all federal, state and local fair housing laws. We actually took the lead several years ago to call for upgrading the continuing education standards for real estate licensees in New York, requiring licensees to complete three hours of fair housing training for each two-year cycle. HGAR will continue to support any and all efforts to eradicate any form of housing discrimination through our coverage area.”
He added that the WRO report includes landlords and property managers “who are not part of our organization”; the WRO testers also met with Realtors. The WRO report does not identify any of the alleged wrong-doing parties.
We invited the administration of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to
join the discussion to discuss what steps the county takes to address the wrongful conduct highlighted in the report. Director of Communications/Senior Advisor Ned McCormack declined. He wrote in an email that the administration “will respectfully decline since the Human Rights Commission may be called to hear cases between WRO and landlords, real estate agents, building managers etc. Our feeling is that it is best for the Administration to maintain a neutral posture.”