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Jan. 26, 2011 -- Westchester County has made "significant improvement" in reducing housing discrimination against non whites, according to a report prepared by Westchester Residential Opportunities (WRO), a non profit housing agency.

WRO sent testers out in the field undercover to see if whites and on whites were treated differently when they attempted to rent an apartment in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam.

While the report concludes discrimination still exists, Westchester did far better than it had done in a similar test five years ago. At that time, 46.5 percent of tests conducted found discrimination in rental housing. In the current round of testing, the percentage was 17.54 percent. For Rockland County discrimination was found in 34.6 percent of the tests and in Putnam 14.3 percent.

The report was released at a news conference Tuesday with WRO and County Executive Robert P. Astorino.

"Discrimination is never acceptable. Not only is it illegal, but it is wrong," Astorino said. "However, this report shows that through education we can significantly decrease the instances. Westchester County will continue to support efforts by WRO and other housing agencies to educate realtors, management companies and the public about these important issues."

The county plays a major role by funding Fair Housing Training and outreach education to realtors and the boards of condominiums and co-ops. In addition, the county's Planning Department works closely with WRO and other housing agencies on many fair housing issues, as well as issues that relate to first-time home ownership, foreclosure prevention and senior housing.

Read WRO's press release and full report.