Housing Discrimination in the City of Ithaca

Not What it Seems

At first glance, the bustling atmosphere and alternative quaintness of Ithaca, New York could lead anyone passing though to consider it paradise. However, when one peels away its glossy veneer, a few things become apparent.

According to 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • 46.4 percent of Ithaca’s inhabitants live below the poverty line, as opposed to 15.3 percent of people in all of New York State
  • Median household income hovers around $28,000, a full $30,000 less than the New York average
  • The average housing unit in Ithaca is valued at $193,700, while the ownership rate for households is half the New York State average at 26.9 percent.

As can be speculated, Ithaca falls well below national and state averages in income, while skyrocketing above average poverty statistics. At the same time, housing units are valued at comparable rates. Theoretically speaking, a family would have to work for about 10 years (when taxes are accounted for) to even hope to purchase a home, as opposed to the average New Yorker’s five or six.

Housing Discrimination

In May of 2015, the Tompkins County Office of Human Rights found nine direct impediments and one indirect impediment to fair and equal housing in the city of Ithaca. The most striking of which included:

  • An inadequacy of space in homeless shelters
  • Preferential treatment to single student rentals (considering Ithaca’s student-dominated market) over renters with families or children
  • Discriminatory practices against individuals lacking proficiency in English or suffering from physical or mental disabilities

Racial discrimation in housing is also a prevalent issue in the city, as it is nationally. According to a 2012 survey of 28 major metropolitan areas conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, blacks were shown 17.7 percent fewer homes and Asians were shown 18.8 percent fewer homes as compared to white home-seekers.

Minority populations make up roughly 10 percent of Ithaca’s inhabitants. A recent rally highlighted concerns about racism concerning job and housing discrimation in the city.




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