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Asian Community Orgs Oppose City Council Bill 632 Prohibiting Criminal Background Checks for Housing


November 30, 2022


Organizations:

Asian Wave Alliance 亚潮萌

New York City Residents Alliance 纽约市居民联盟

poagny.com (Property Owners Association of Greater New York) 纽约小房东


Asian Community Organizations Oppose City Council Bill 632 Prohibiting Criminal Background Checks for Housing


New York, NY – Asian community leaders urge the public to voice their opposition to New York City Council bill 632, a “local law prohibiting housing discrimination on the basis of arrest record or criminal history”. This bill, if passed, will prohibit criminal background checks to be performed for rentals and sales of residential units. New Yorkers have the right to feel safe in their homes and our laws should protect residents from known risks in a fair and transparent manner.


“Our electeds continue to prioritize the lives of convicted criminals over the safety of hardworking New Yorkers. This is a deceptive bill, appearing to take aim at landlords. The reality is that most landlords don’t live on the properties they rent, other tenants do. This is a safety concern for all residents who share the same entrance, elevators and laundry rooms with neighbors who may have had a violent criminal history,” says Yiatin Chu, President of Asian Wave Alliance.


Donghui Zang, President of New York City Residents Alliance points out that “This bill totally ignores basic safety protections of communities, but also, if enacted, will greatly discourage small landlords’ willingness to rent units. Furthermore, the broader issue not being considered is how co-op and condo boards might begin refusing sublets altogether and/or tack on additional fees which would make renting even more expensive and exacerbate the already short supply of available affordable housing. This will hurt both small property owners and renters alike."


Roy Ho, President of POAGNY further explains that “landlords who want to have tenants with no criminal history will end up using other information of the applicant to proxy his/her not having a conviction where race may be one of these proxies. Renters may continue to live in ethnic ghettos as opposed to exploring new but unfamiliar neighborhoods if the safety of their family is perceived to be at greater risk. These factors will further reinforce residential segregation.”


Zang passionately rebutted the Bill 632 in a WeChat group saying that “while I agree that certain types of arrests and prosecutions should not be a factor to impact whether an application be declined or approved, such decision should be left to the landlord themselves by presenting the full information to them, rather than by 30 City Council members.”


While Chu, Zang and Ho all share concerns about safety, Roy Ho, President of Property Owners Association of Greater New York, stresses that the scope is larger than presented by proponents of the bill. “This bill will not only prohibit landlords from performing a criminal check, but also co-ops, condos and HOA (home owner association) boards as well. The scope of this bill actually covers not only leases, but also sales. Therefore, a lot of co-ops may unexpectedly find themselves violating this anti-discrimination law,” says Ho.


The leaders urge residents to participate in the upcoming public hearing on Thursday, December 8, 2022. Sign up to testify by Zoom/ telephone or in-person: https://council.nyc.gov/testify/. POAGNY will offer training to those who are interested in speaking to this topic in the public hearing. Please contact roy@poagny.com for more details.



Reference:

Text of Bill 632



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