Source of income (SOI) discrimination is one of the most commmon forms of illegal housing bias in New York City. When tenants with rental assistance vouchers inquire about a listing, landlords and brokers unlawfully deny or ignore them.
Left underenforced, SOI discrimination prolongs homelessness, excludes families from high-opportunity areas, exacerbates segregation, and negatively impacts both physical and mental wellbeing.
This map visualizes the rate of source of income (SOI) discrimination reports by City Council district. The data covers SOI reports received by Neighbors Together and Unlock NYC since January 2018, and is updated regularly as new reports are submitted through Unlock NYC’s chatbot.
Click on a district to learn more.
District XX has the X highest rate of SOI discrimination in New York City, based on cumulative data (2018 - 2023) from Unlock NYC and Neighbors Together.
The most common denial tactics in CDXX are:
This map is brought to you by a collaboration between Unlock NYC and Neighbors Together, and builds off the findings and policy recommendations we laid out in our 2022 participatory action report, An Illusion of Choice: How Source of Income Discrimination and Voucher Policies Perpetuate Housing Inequality.
Here is how we define the denial tactics included on the map:
The dataset analyzed on this map consists of over 1,500 crowdsourced reports of source of income discrimination collected since January 2018. About 500 were collected by Neighbors Together at housing search clinics, where staff members pair up with voucher holders to assist them in applying for housing with a voucher. An additional 1,000+ were collected through Unlock NYC’s chatbot, launched in January 2021 to provide a user-friendly, mobile-based tool for New Yorkers to record phone calls with brokers and report discrimination on the go. Of the ~1,500 reports received, 1,266 include an address, and were therefore mapped. The data on the map is updated regularly as we receive more reports from New Yorkers facing discrimination.
When New Yorkers file a report through Unlock’s tool, they typically include a description of the incident, the address of the property they were turned down from, and the date. They also upload evidence, such as screenshots of SMS conversations with brokers or a phone recording. Our team then follows-up with each user to connect them to government agencies and resources to help them exercise their rights and find housing.
We used open data sources to generate a standardized address and a borough-block-lot number (BBL) for each report, and to join our dataset with existing information about City Council districts. We normalized our data to generate a rate of SOI discrimination per 100,000 people in each district, using population data from the American Community Survey (2019).
Given its crowdsourced nature, the data is not exhaustive - it does not provide a complete survey of every single incident of SOI discrimination in New York City, as many of these go unreported. City agencies that interface with voucher holders such as the Human Resources Administration and the Department of Homeless Services, as well as some shelters, homelessness prevention service providers, nonprofits that work with voucher holders, and agencies that administer voucher programs do not systematically report discrimination. There is no unified, centralized system to track SOI discrimination and make this data available to the public in New York City. The lack of visibility around the issue makes it harder to track repeat discriminators, to quantify the scope of the problem, and to take enforcement actions to protect tenants from SOI discrimination.
We are facing a humanitarian crisis, with unprecedented rent hikes and homelessness rates not seen since the Great Depression. SOI discrimination perpetuates homelessness by preventing New Yorkers from moving out of shelters and into permanent, stable housing.
In order to house our neighbors, the City needs to invest significantly more resources in SOI discrimination enforcement:
Furthermore, New York State should support enforcement and institute the following recommendations:
Unlock NYC’s free tools help you record your phone calls with landlords and brokers and report unfair treatment during your housing search.
Neighbors Together is committed to ending hunger and poverty in Ocean Hill, Brownsville and Bedford- Stuyvesant, three of the lowest- income areas in New York City. https://neighborstogether.org