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Tenants To team Up Against Voucher Snubbing Landlords

Tenants are raising their voices against the landlords who are not willing to give them housing based on the Section 8 housing voucher.

October 18, 2023

Elizabeth Byrd, a single mother, has spent nearly 18 years in and out of the Brooklyn homeless shelter system. She is also collaborating with other tenants to take action against such landlords and brokers who refuse to accept Section 8 housing choice vouchers to pay rent.

She believes that such discrimination is illegal and the tenants can take action against such landlords. At present, she pays around 50% of her rent with a FHEPS Voucher. However, she struggled to find an apartment with this voucher during previous years as the landlords set income restrictions and would mention a “no voucher” policy.

During her stay at Brooklyn Shelter, she came across a non-profit organization named Unlock NYC that helps tenants document such discrimination and report it further.

In the past four years, Unlock NYC has amassed a database of around 2,000 reports from tenants detailing discriminatory housing practices. On Wednesday, the organization plans to release a citywide ranking identifying the landlords and brokers who have been most frequently reported for discriminating against tenants with housing vouchers since 2019.

A Section 8 voucher holder named Clementine Boswell made complaints against Parkchester in 2023 saying that this was unfair after the ruling of the minimum income requirements. She moved to South Carolina after the death of her son. She also developed chronic health issues later on and was unable to stabilize between work and life.

Like others, she also applied for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and received it in early 2023.

Boswell said, “When I got it I was really in dire need. I started trying to find a place ever since I got my voucher. I’m doing everything that I am supposed to do. I have like 1,700 emails of me contacting folks for an apartment … and you’re trying to tell me no one wants to give me an apartment?”

THE CITY analyzed text conversations between Boswell and various brokers and landlord representatives, revealing tactics consistent with those in Unlock NYC’s records. Once Boswell mentioned her housing voucher, many claimed the apartment was suddenly unavailable or stopped responding altogether. Despite explaining that her Section 8 program ensured landlords would receive full rent, she still faced these challenges.

In 2023, an agent at Parkchester reportedly asked Boswell for a $250 background check fee because of her voucher, a charge other tenants weren’t subjected to. This violates the 2019 Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which caps credit or background check fees at $20.
When she filled out the rental application, she was pushed back by saying that the unit was not available. Boswell connected with Unlock NYC and forwarded her report further and she finally found a one-bedroom apartment whose landlord accepted her application.

Boswell said, “What the landlords are doing is not right, it’s not right. They are not giving you a chance. These people should be brought to justice.”

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The content provided in this article draws inspiration and includes quotes from various reputable sources, including news articles, government data, and interviews. Affordable Housing 411 strives to ensure accuracy and credibility, but the information presented may be based on some external sources. We encourage readers to refer to the referenced materials for more in-depth insights and verification.

Rabiyah Sam. “Tenants Team Up to Target Voucher-Snubbing Landlords”. The City, October 18, 2023,
Tenants Team Up to Target Voucher-Snubbing Landlords | THE CITY — NYC News

Last Updated: September 20, 2021