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Laura Curran to announce plans to battle housing discrimination

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Jan. 17

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Jan. 17 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Friday is expected to announce "sweeping" plans to combat housing discrimination in the county, including stepped-up enforcement of the county open housing law and appointment of a special housing attorney.

Members of the county legislature, Democrat and Republican, are expected to join Curran, a Democrat, in announcing the plans in Mineola. 

The proposals are in response to a Newsday investigative report that found evidence of widespread unequal treatment of minorities by real estate agents on Long Island.

The three-year project sent minority and white testers to look for homes in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and found minority testers were treated disparately 40 percent of the time when compared with whites. 

Black testers experienced disparate treatment 49 percent of the time, compared with 39 percent for Hispanic and 19 percent for Asian testers. 

“Newsday’s investigation uncovered an unacceptable reality that we must commit to reversing," Curran said in a statement Thursday.

"In Nassau County, we are forging a historic, comprehensive, and bipartisan action plan to combat housing discrimination through increased enforcement, education, and community engagement," Curran said. "We will seize this opportunity to work together for lasting change.”

Curran's plan calls for appointment of a special housing counsel, stepped up enforcement of the county's open housing law, more staff for the county Human Rights Commission, establishment of a Fair Housing Advisory Board, and creation of a public awareness campaign to inform residents about their housing rights, according to a news release. 

Administration officials did not disclose further information about the plans Thursday. 

Legis. Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park), the county legislature's presiding officer, pledged to work with Democrats to address housing discrimination in Nassau. Republicans hold an 11-8 majority in the legislature. 

"The Majority looks forward to working with the County Executive to develop an action plan to respond to the issues raised in Newsday's report," Nicolello said in a statement. "Discrimination against anyone in Nassau County because of race, ethnicity or other protected characteristics will not be tolerated," 

Minority caucus leader Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said, “It is our responsibility to work with all levels of government to implement long-term strategies for eradicating discriminatory practices. Nassau County's collaborative and multifaceted approach is a great start.”

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