Source of Income Discrimination

in NYC

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:

No vouchers:
Income requirements:
Credit requirements:
Discriminatory ad:
Bait and switch:

Do you live in District XX? If so, contact your City Council Member to let them know that you want them to advocate for increased funding for CCHR in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget.


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.

Data Sources


Here is how we define the denial tactics included on the map:

  • Ghosting: Not responding after a prospective tenant mentions their voucher is mentioned
  • No vouchers: Explicit denials, such as “the landlord doesn’t take vouchers” or “no programs”
  • Income requirements: Setting minimum income requirements, such as “you need to earn 40x the rent”. As long as a tenant’s voucher covers the rent of the apartment they are applying for, they cannot be subjected to income requirements, nor required to provide a guarantor.
  • Credit requirements: Setting a minimum credit score, such as “must have credit above 750.” Tenants whose vouchers cover 100% of the rent cannot be rejected based on their credit score.
  • Discriminatory ad: Listing advertisements that contain discriminatory language in the ad, such as “No Section 8”
  • Steering: Attempting to influence a tenant's neighborhood or community choice based on their status as a voucher holder (example: "there aren't a lot of voucher holders in that neighborhood. Have you tried East New York? You might be more comfortable there")
  • Bait and switch: Advertising photos for one apartment, but upon contacting or coming to the viewing, showing them a totally different (usually worse) unit
  • Other: Anything not captured in the above categories - tactics constantly change, and we will update these in the future as we keep up.
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Press Inquiry


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.

Key Findings

  • We’ve received reports in all five boroughs, and every single City Council district. Wherever they look, tenants looking for housing with a rental assistance voucher are met with denials. Across the board, the most common denial is ghosting, which is reported in nearly 50% of cases.
  • Rents are intensely unaffordable in New York City. Even after voucher holders won an increase to voucher payment standards in 2021, people are still locked out of high-income neighborhoods. For example, fewer addresses were reported in Lower Manhattan, indicating that voucher holders are less likely to apply to apartments in wealthy communities.
  • Meanwhile, we see several hot spots where vouchers have reported numerous instances of discrimination, primarily in Central Brooklyn, Northern Manhattan, and the East Bronx. As of March 6, 2023, the districts with the highest rates of SOI discrimination were Districts 45, 41, 40 in Brooklyn, District 10 in Manhattan, and District 18 in the Bronx.
  • It is worth noting that districts with high rates of reported SOI discrimination are often the areas where voucher holders can find housing within their voucher payment standards. From our participatory research, we learned that many high-end neighborhoods are off-limits for voucher holders, either due to financial and/or psychological barriers. The reported data is a reflection of where voucher holders are able to apply for housing - and yet still face discrimination.

Our Solutions

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:

  • Increase funding and staffing at the City Commission on Human Rights, bringing the Commission staffing as a whole back up to its pre-2019 staffing levels. The mayor’s fiscal year 2024 preliminary budget cuts 20 full-time employees from the Commission when what is needed is more staffing and resources
  • Provide resources for public education on source of income discrimination and how to submit effective discrimination reports
  • Offer competitive salaries and flexible remote work policies to attract a qualified workforce to the agencies that interface with voucher holders
  • Include SOI discrimination as a form of harassment in the “Certificate of No Harassment” (CONH) Program, disqualifying an offending landlord’s application
  • Increase fines on discriminatory landlords
  • Publicly list SOI discrimination instances on the HPD building info database
  • Eliminate credit requirement for voucher holders
  • Build more affordable housing at or below 30% of AMI
  • Increase funding for and staffing of case managers and housing specialists to ensure meaningful assistance to homeless clients using vouchers
  • Provide funding to grassroots organizations assisting voucher holders
  • Sponsor Know Your Rights trainings and housing searches

Furthermore, New York State should support enforcement and institute the following recommendations:

  • Improve coordination between enforcement agencies at the state and city level
  • Ensure that every voucher holding New Yorker receives adequate information about their rights and pathways to justice
  • Require enforcement agencies to publicly report how many SOI complaints they receive each year and to track outcomes through clear and transparent metrics
  • Revoke licenses of brokers who repeatedly discriminate against voucher holders
  • Pass Good Cause Eviction: This bill would provide protections to the 1.6 million households living in unregulated rental units statewide, 600,000 of whom live in New York City
  • Pass the Housing Access Voucher Program: This bill would create a statewide voucher that pays fair market rent and allows recipients to increase their earnings until their rent is 30% of their income

About Us:

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.

Report Discrimination