Fair Housing 101

What is fair housing? Who is protected? What can I do to help? Find answers here!

(or read the full text of fair housing laws)

Who is Protected?

Protected classes at the federal level:

  • Race

  • Color

  • Religion

  • Sex

  • Familial Status

  • National Origin

  • Disability

Protected classes in New York State include all of the above plus:

  • Military Status

  • Sexual Orientation

  • Age

  • Creed

  • Marital Status

Protected classes in Erie County include all of the above plus:

  • Gender Identity

  • Source of Income

  • Immigration and Citizenship Status

What does discrimination look like?

Discrimination isn’t always obvious. Any of these actions could be discrimination if they happen because of a person’s membership in one of the groups above:

  • Refusal: refusing to rent to someone

  • Misrepresentation: lying about whether a property is rented or not

  • Inconsistent terms: different rules for different tenants

  • Advertisement: showing preference for or against a certain group in ads

  • Illegal inquiries: asking questions about protected classes

  • Steering: convincing someone to live in a certain area because of stereotypes or bias

  • Coercion: coercion, intimidation, threats, harassment

  • Refusing to make reasonable accommodations or modifications for people with disabilities.

Support Inclusionary Zoning

Inclusionary zoning means requiring new development to include a certain proportion of affordable housing. This can increase mixed-income neighborhoods, increase overall affordability in high-opportunity neighborhoods, and lessen some of the worst effects of gentrification.

Our friends at the Partnership for the Public Good outlined why Buffalo needs inclusionary zoning in this detailed policy brief.

Report Discrimination

If you have been a victim of housing discrimination, report it using this form. If you are looking through rental advertisements and see wording that sounds discriminatory, please share it with us via link, screenshot, or both via our Facebook page and we will investigate.