Vouchers To Nowhere: How Source of Income Discrimination Happens and the Policies That Can Fix It


On September 14, 2020, TakeRoot and VOCAL-NY released “Vouchers to Nowhere: How Source of Income Discrimination Happens and the Policies That Can Fix It.”

Source of income discrimination is the illegal practice by landlords, building owners and real estate brokers of refusing to rent to current or prospective tenants who plan to pay for their housing with housing assistance vouchers, subsidies or other forms of public assistance. Source of income discrimination has been illegal in NYC since 2008, but VOCAL-NY members know firsthand that landlords and agents practice it, and our new report documents and confirms this.

The report is based on matched pair testing to 114 real estate agents, brokers and landlords who had advertised available apartments.  Each agent was contacted once by a tester presenting as someone with a housing subsidy, and once by a tester presenting as having income from employment.  The data from our testing reveal a pattern of discriminatory practices by landlords and their agents against the callers with subsidies, creating a significant barrier to obtaining permanent housing. Findings from the report show that voucher holders heard back less often, more slowly, and with fewer positive results than callers with income from employment. 

The report offers policy recommendations and reforms to address the systemic challenges faced by subsidy holders, including raising the CityFHEPS voucher to market rent, ensuring that subsidy holders know their rights, increasing financial penalties for source of income discrimination, and passing legislation to eliminate credit checks for subsidy holders.


Read the full report here.