Letters to the editor, Mar. 5

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Thank you from the Purcell family

Editor’s note: John “Butch” Purcell’s wife Mary and son John wanted to thank the community for their outpouring of support following Butch’s death earlier this year and passed along this note for us to publish.

“It’s hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember.”

Thank you for helping to celebrate and remember the beautiful life of Butch. Your love and support during this difficult time has given us great comfort and strength.

Much love,

The Purcell Family

John “Butch” Purcell, also known as the mayor of Stuyvesant Town, pictured with his pooch Ginger (Photo by Kelly Vohs)


Cuomo must address housing discrimination

The following is an open letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo from multiple housing organizations sent at the end of January calling on the state government to do more to combat housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunities for all New Yorkers. The letter has been edited for length.

We applaud Governor Cuomo’s interest in combating housing discrimination across New York State. However, with housing discrimination complaints on the rise at the same time the federal government retreats from its commitment to enforcement of fair housing laws, we believe the proposed actions to better inform homebuyers and renters of their fair housing rights are simply not enough. To ensure equal housing opportunity for all New Yorkers, the Governor and legislature should focus their lawmaking efforts on increasing funding for fair housing testing and enforcement throughout the state, as well as on implementing several needed improvements to the fair housing laws.

If New York State wishes to lead the fight against housing discrimination, we believe the Governor and State legislature should be funding full service fair housing organizations to conduct fair housing testing and enforcement efforts.

We understand that the three major proposals from the Governor are as follows: notification of fair housing laws, posting of fair housing laws, and video recording of fair housing training. We appreciate efforts to notify consumers of their rights (we do much of the same in our own outreach work) through written notifications and postings. But while improving housing consumer knowledge of fair housing laws is a goal we share, we do not believe increasing notification is sufficient to rid our housing market of discrimination. Put simply, educated consumers will not exercise their rights if they do not know their rights were violated.

With respect to the Governor’s last proposal, to video record all fair housing trainings, we respectfully believe that this will in fact be counterproductive to the cause and should be eliminated from the proposals. The fair housing trainings we and other fair housing trainers conduct are the rare occasions in which real estate professionals are able to speak more candidly and openly of the challenges they have in interpreting and complying with fair housing laws.

If trainings are recorded, we believe it will have a chilling effect on these conversations, impeding learning and making it more difficult for fair housing advocates and teachers to connect effectively with the line agents. Of course, if New York State is interested in evaluating how long these trainings are or how effectively the material is conveyed, we suggest that New York State send staff to randomly sit in upon such trainings to evaluate their adequacy.

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