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Long Island Lawmakers Unveil Plan To Fight Rampant Housing Discrimination After Explosive Investigation

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A historic and sustained plan of action was unveiled Friday on Long Island to fight rampant housing discrimination.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say whatever the price tag, minorities need fair housing help now.

Pilar Moya moved into an all-white Long Island community.

"Within a couple of days, I received the first hate letter stating that because of the color of my skin, I did not belong in that neighborhood," she told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan.

Racial steering and redlining remain alive and well, documented in an explosive Newsday investigation.

"We know that racial discrimination in housing and the segregation that it has perpetuated has a long and deep history on Long Island," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

Nassau, Suffolk and New York State lawmakers are now launching a probe of housing bias based on Newsday's undercover videos and reports.

Equally qualified testers of different races met with the same realtors with markedly different results.

Minorities were not shown homes in white areas 40% of the time.

"The project took three years. It was 16 months of actual testing. We utilized 25 people from Long Island, from all walks of life ... [and] 12 [real estate companies], the 12 largest firms on Long Island," Newsday reporter Olivia Winslow said.

The discrimination is felt across the mortgage world, say experts.

"This is not just a problem in the real estate industry with realtors. It's also a problem with landlords, it's a problem with lenders. We need to look at discrimination in all those industries," said Ian Wilder with Long Island Housing Services.

Advocates for renters and other wanna-be homeowners say it's a slap in the face.

"Everyone should be free to buy a home in any part of Nassau County they want," one man said.

"Zero tolerance no matter what the discrimination is," another man said.

"So today we are announcing that Nassau County will take historic, comprehensive and bipartisan action to combat housing discrimination," Curran said.

The action includes appointing a special housing attorney, a fair housing board and stepped up enforcement of the open housing law.

The Long Island board of realtors says it is investigating whether its member agents violated the national code of ethics.

Housing bias hearings begin in three weeks.

Nassau leaders also pledge increased tax breaks to increase the amount of affordable private housing in the county.

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