Legislation passed by the Westchester Board of Legislators in June to prohibit discrimination against renters using Section 8 vouchers, veteran benefits or other income subsidies to pay rent took effect in December.
The law immediately applied to existing renters but the effective date for new applicants was 180 days after the law was approved. County Executive Rob Astorino, forced by a court order, signed it at the end of June.
The source-of-income legislation prevents discrimination in the sale or rental of housing to people who use government income or private subsidies to pay rent. Besides Section 8 vouchers and veteran benefits, that can include Social Security, disability payments and grants from housing programs.
Cooperatives, condos and buildings with six units or fewer are exempted. Penalties can go up to $50,000, half the amount for other housing discrimination violations in county law. The law already included race, marital status, disability, religion, citizenship status, sexual orientation and several other categories.
Source-of-income protections were negotiated into the 2009 fair housing settlement between Westchester County and the federal government, which included the language that the county executive would “promote” the legislation. Astorino, who opposed the bill and vetoed it when it came to his desk, argued that former County Executive Andy Spano had taken care of the promotion requirement by asking the board to pass the law. But the federal courts found that the promotion provision required Astorino to sign the legislation.
The law sunsets in five years.