This chatbot helps New Yorkers report housing discrimination

For the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who receive rental assistance vouchers, government help paying rent isn’t always enough of a guarantee they’ll find housing. Those who rely on vouchers such as Section 8 or CityFHEPS can face roadblocks when brokers and landlords turn them down, saying they don’t accept such vouchers or saying that a unit is no longer available when it actually is—actions that are illegal under city and state laws and examples of source-of-income discrimination.

To combat that discrimination, social justice startup Unlock NYC has launched a chatbot to help New Yorkers report these potential infractions. On its website, prospective tenants who were illegally turned down for an apartment can click “report” and prompts will guide them through the process, allowing users to select details such as “someone told me I didn’t meet the income requirements for the unit” or “I got ghosted after mentioning my vouchers,” and explaining what the benefits of reporting the interaction could be.


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