In response to a three-year Newsday investigation which found Long Island real-estate agents' widespread unequal treatment against Hispanic, Asian, and black homebuyers, Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, the first person of Haitian descent elected to the New York State Legislature, issued the following statement:
As one of the few legislators of color in the region, I believe it is important to recognize and discuss the deeply entrenched problem of segregation on Long Island which has recently been brought to the forefront of political discourse. This is an issue that particularly affects my district and its residents. This is not just a matter of housing, but rather the subjugation of generations of people of color to poorer health outcomes, educational disadvantages, economic underdevelopment, loss of generational wealth and decades of environmental injustice.
For many of us, this is not a new conversation but rather a conversation that has finally been given its due attention. Segregation in Long Island dates back as far as the 1950s, and in order to combat it, the state and the federal government must take action. We cannot leave it solely up to non-profits and journalists to expose incidents of housing discrimination and enforce anti-discrimination laws. We must be proactive in eliminating exclusionary zoning laws that prevent the creation and maintenance of affordable housing and that perpetuate segregation in our communities and schools.
First and foremost, I would like to thank Newsday for devoting resources to investigating the open secret of segregation in LI. Moreover, I am grateful that we have a State Attorney General, Letitia James, who is willing to thoroughly probe this matter and has initiated a community-oriented process for affected parties to air their grievances. While I am confident that the state will take the appropriate actions, the true onus is on the Town of Hempstead and Nassau County to present real solutions to address decades of inequities.
I refuse to let this be just another news headline. We must use this moment as a call to action. I hope to have a diversified conversation with pertinent stakeholders who do not see this simply as a moment to claim the limelight, but as a chance to enact lasting change for future generations of Long Islanders.