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Head of Long Island-based civil rights group ERASE Racism to step down

Elaine Gross
Courtesy of ERASE Racism
Elaine Gross

Elaine Gross, the founder and president of ERASE Racism and a veteran of the fight for civil rights on Long Island, has announced her retirement. She dedicated the past 20 years to racial equity and advocacy in one of the most segregated regions of the country.

Gross founded ERASE Racism in 2001 to focus on research, policy changes, education and mobilizing the public. Under her leadership, the Long Island-based civil rights organization worked to amend New York’s human rights laws to protect residents who receive government assistance from housing discrimination. The so-called “source of income” amendment makes it illegal to deny housing based on income like social security or child support.

ERASE Racism also helped uncover blatant racism in the real estate market, leading the state Legislature to pass a slew of fair housing bills last year.

Gross said in a statement that her work to expose segregation on Long Island has been “exciting, energizing, fulfilling, and — given the nature of the mission — challenging,” and that it’s time to hand over the reins to new leadership.

She plans to stay on as president until her successor is chosen.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.