The Law

It is illegal to be denied a housing opportunity because of your color. Color refers to a person’s skin color. Color is included separately from race because people can discriminate solely on color. For example, someone can discriminate against another person whose skin is lighter or darker. This discrimination is closely associated with discrimination based on race, national origin, and citizenship status.

Color Discrimination

Discrimination means being treated differently by any person with the authority to rent, sell, or deal with applicants or residents of a housing accommodation. It occurs when a preference or bias based on skin color is a determining factor when providing access to housing opportunities. Those discriminating based on color use it as a visual indicator of their assumptions about a person’s intelligence, social status, education, income, and/or other characteristics. Color discrimination can occur between individuals of the same race and/or ethnicity, as well as between persons of different races/ethnicities. Whether your skin is light or dark should not be a reason for being treated differently.

These behaviors, policies, or practices could be evidence of discrimination:

  • Requiring submission of a photograph of you or your family with your rental or sales application;
  • Informing you that, because of the community is gentrifying, “You may not be comfortable here.”;
  • Being told the apartments are no longer available when you visit the on-site office even when the building has a sign up advertising apartments for rent or for sale; or,
  • Being told the amount of the monthly lease is higher when you visit the rental office than the amount told to you on the phone.

The Law also prohibits retaliation if you file a discrimination complaint against someone, or act as a witness for someone else who files a complaint.

File a Complaint

If you believe you are the victim of housing discrimination, contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights by calling 311 or the Commission Infoline at (718) 722-3131.

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