Jackson Heights, NY - October 20, 2015 - Yesterday, Assemblyman Francisco Moya and Make the Road New York hosted a Town Hall Meeting on Rental and Housing Fraud. Community members, elected officials, and government agencies convened for the first time to tackle the problem of housing and rental fraud.
The need for affordable housing has resulted in increased opportunities for bad actors to take advantage of community members, especially new immigrants. Many real estate agencies, multiservice businesses and even fake owners advertise services that are never ultimately provided and take money with the false promise of finding families a place to live.
During the town hall, victims were given the opportunity to explain what had happened to them, and the community explored solutions to this growing problem.
Heidy Santos, Make the Road New York member and Queens resident, said, “These scams have to stop. My family went to a multiservice agency looking for an apartment to rent. The man there said he had a place in Richmond Hills. We saw it and decided to take it. He was going to hand the apartment over to us on April 3 but gave excuses ... the owner was working, or he was in church, etc. We asked for our money back and he give us a bad check. Then we saw him on the street and gave us another bad check. We tried to get our money going to his office but whenever he sees me, he insults me and treats me with badly.”
“Victims of rental fraud are left with empty wallets and empty promises,” said Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights). “We cannot allow scammers to take advantage of our most vulnerable residents. No one has a right to scam people just because of their immigration status or the language they speak. In the United States, we believe that everyone should have a shot at the American Dream. But how can people save, and raise a family, and move into the middle class if there are scam artists waiting at every turn?”
“These unscrupulous multi-service agencies prey upon several segments of our community, including undocumented immigrants, hard-working families and the elderly. This is absolutely unacceptable. They promise services that they never deliver. It is in my hope that offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said State Senator Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst). “I want to thank my friend and colleague Assemblymember Francisco Moya and Make the Road for putting this town hall together to inform people, and to help them avoid becoming victims."
Commissioner Nisha Agarwal said, "Fraud by unscrupulous individuals and entities who take advantage of vulnerable immigrants seeking housing is unlawful and unconscionable, and it negatively impacts our neighborhoods and communities. The Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs thanks Assemblymember Moya, Make the Road New York, and other government and community leaders for their attention to this problem. We will continue to work together to address these abusive practices in our community."