Real estate giants subpoenaed in housing discrimination probe

Originally published in Newsday

Some of the biggest names in real estate have been sent subpoenas by the New York State Senate, amid a probe of potential housing discrimination on Long Island. The list includes Coldwell Banker, RE/MAX, Keller Williams, Charles Rutenberg Realty, Realty Connect USA and Douglas Elliman, according to state Senate officials.

The Senate also Thursday disclosed it will call for appropriating $12 million for “fair housing and enforcement” actions during upcoming negotiations over the state budget. About $1 million would be earmarked for Nassau and Suffolk counties, to help fund “pairs testing,” as Newsday deployed in its series, “Long Island Divided,” which sparked multiple state investigations. In all, 31 subpoenas were issued, summoning agents and company representatives to appear at a Senate hearing currently slated for April 17 at the Nassau County legislative offices in Mineola.

“Right now, the subpoenas have been sent out. We know that individuals are saying they received them,” Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown), chairman of the Consumer Protection Committee, one of three panels conducting the Senate probe. 

 “We want to know, since the [Newsday] investigation, what have they done?” Thomas said.

The Senate plans to include the housing funding in what’s referred to its “one-house budget” bill. These are documents the Senate and Assembly produce — usually in mid-March — that frame budget negotiations with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Thomas said besides specifically earmarking funds for Long Island, the housing appropriation would call for $4 million for nonprofit groups and $7 million to the state Division of Human Rights for testing and enforcement.

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