Tenant-Led Organization Fights Back Against Discriminating Landlords

Although it’s technically illegal for landlords to deny housing voucher recipients, tenants around the country have been rejected or charged exorbitant fees for using vouchers.

1 minute read

October 22, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


In a story originally published in The City and republished in Next City, Sam Rabiyah describes how a group of tenants in Brooklyn is organizing against landlords who refuse to rent to federal housing voucher recipients, a practice that is ostensibly illegal.

A nonprofit organization, “Unlock NYC is led by a leadership collective, women with backgrounds in law, policy analysis, community organizing and other fields who all use housing vouchers and say they’ve faced discrimination because of it.” The organization collects reports of discrimination and is set to release a “citywide ranking” of landlords and brokers that have had the most complaints against them.

According to Rabiyah, “Unlock NYC built a text message bot that tenants use to document and report voucher discrimination, walking complainants through a series of questions and responses. Staff members then review these reports and submit them as formal complaints to the city Commission on Human Rights, which follows up to warn landlords and brokers of potential violations and can pursue legal action if warranted.”

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