It's criminal, as far as many landlords and co-op and condo advocates are concerned. In the waning days of Mayor Bill de Blasio's tenure, the City Council is set to vote on a bill, Intro. 2047, that would ban landlords and co-op and condo boards from doing criminal background checks on potential tenants or apartment buyers. The bill would affect an estimated 2.6 million residents of co-ops, condos and rent-stabilized buildings in the five boroughs.
The Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums has voiced loud opposition to the proposal. The council's website states: "This seriously flawed legislation could result in arsonists, embezzlers — and worse! — becoming your neighbors. Please contact your City Council representative today to explain the danger of this legislation and ask that they oppose it. The bill currently has a majority of the Council as co-sponsors and your representative may be among them... Explain this threat to the residents of your building and ask that they also contact your City Council representative. Intro. 2047 must be stopped."
The website contains a link to a letter of opposition posted by the Rent Stabilization Association (RSA), which represents landlords. The letter can be addressed to the appropriate member of the City Council. It states: "RSA located a buried provision in the amended bill that states that only New York registered sex offenders would be barred from renting an apartment. This would allow registered sex offenders from other states to come to New York City and attempt to rent an apartment without the building owner having any knowledge about their registration on sex offender lists outside of New York State. This modification to the bill is clearly unacceptable."
CBS News reports that Joseph Strasburg, president of the RSA, ticked off a partial list of the crimes landlords and boards would be unable to check if the bill becomes law: “Murder, assault, battery, drug dealing, gun running, sex crimes.”
Stephen Levin, the bill's sponsor, responded: “Safe and stable housing is a right every New Yorker deserves, yet conviction records continue to be used to punish and discriminate against people long after they have left the criminal legal system. Removing restrictive barriers would increase access to housing for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and make it possible for people to restart their lives.”
The bill is also supported by lame duck Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Stable housing reduces recidivism," says mayoral spokesman Mitch Schwartz. "Discriminatory housing practices make it worse. Keeping our city safe means changing the way we think about housing equity — not repeating the same mistakes that leave people behind, even long after they’ve left the justice system.”
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