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NY Rep. Nydia Velázquez takes aim at landlords fueling US housing crisis

David Brand

 and 

Michelle Bocanegra

Published Mar 7, 2023

Rep. Nydia Velázquez wants the federal government to crack down on landlords she says are exacerbating a nationwide affordable housing crisis.

The Brooklyn Democrat is introducing legislation Tuesday that would amend the Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination against people with rental assistance vouchers and fine property owners $100,000 every month that they are found to “deliberately” leave an apartment empty, she told Gothamist.

Warehousing units or denying apartments to voucher-holders — a practice known as “source of income discrimination” — drives up rents and forces people into homelessness or unstable housing arrangements, Velázquez said..

“In order to end homelessness as we know it, we have to provide shelter,” Velàzquez said in an interview. “We have to empower families to be able to afford and find affordable housing in New York City.”

Velázquez is putting forward the proposal amid what she says is a crisis on her home turf. More than 88,000 rent-stabilized apartments sat vacant in 2021, as the coronavirus pandemic took its toll on the economy and people working in the hardest-hit industries.

That number has since decreased, but for Velázquez, the same issue is at stake: Without affordable housing, she said, “no city can survive.”

Read More: Gothamist