Officials, landlords at odds over Section 8
Officials are cracking down on landlords who refuse to accept Section 8 housing vouchers from potential tenants, leaving those struggling to escape homelessness in the center of the conflict.
Victims say they're trying to find places to live, and officials are now calling the refusal to accept the vouchers illegal. The city comptroller is citing a 2008 ban on income discrimination.
"They are absolutely breaking the human rights law," Comptroller Scott Stringer says of the accused landlords.
Stringer has called on the city's Human Rights Commission to investigate the trend.
Income discrimination investigations have risen more than 200 percent above the number in 2014, according to the comptroller's office.
News 12 uncovered numerous ads on Craigslist and other realty sites that blatantly denied Section 8 vouchers.
"The gall of these landlords to put on their own website 'vouchers need not apply,'" Stringer says. "This is old-fashioned discrimination."
More than 50,000 homeless people live in New York, according to statistics, many of them in homeless shelters.
The shelter residents who receive Section 8 housing vouchers as they try to move into their own homes say they are continually denied leases by landlords.
Pamela Hopkins has lived in a shelter on Cauldwell Avenue for two years, sharing a single room with her daughter and two grandchildren.
She says she received a voucher two months ago, but remains unable to use it anywhere.
"I feel money is money," Hopkins says. "Section 8 money is money. And these landlords shouldn't sit up there and act like they don't want to take the Section 8 voucher. It's ridiculous."
Adding stress to the matter, the vouchers come with expiration deadlines and require a lengthy process to re-apply.