A lawsuit filed against New York City in federal court last week accuses the city of promoting racial and economic segregation through its affordable housing policies.
The Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC), which filed the lawsuit, is seeking to remove an “outsider-restriction policy” requiring that 50 percent of affordable units be reserved for residents already living in the neighborhood.
According to the ADC, the policy amounts to “entrenched segregation,” and removing it will allow all income-eligible New Yorkers “to compete on a level playing field.”
“This preference serves to bar city residents living outside of the community districts from competing on an equal basis for all available units,” the center wrote in its lawsuit, adding that the existing policy makes it harder for low-income and minority residents to access high-quality schools, parks and jobs.
The ADC also emphasized that New York City is the second-most residentially segregated major city in the United States and not as diverse as it appears.
“In New York, you can’t go 10 minutes without hearing ‘diverse this, diverse that,'” said Craig Gurian, Executive Director of the ADC, to The Associated Press. “New York has made less progress against segregation, particularly with African-Americans, than almost any major city. Despite all the rhetoric, New York has a very big problem.”
According to the ADC, “Thepatterns of segregation in New York City are unmistakable and arose from decades of intentional discrimination and segregation.
“The development of these segregated patterns was not a ‘natural’ process but was developed through the intentional discrimination by all involved in the housing market, including governmental entities, developers, landlords, and others.”
As a result, says the ADC lawsuit, Blacks have been largely restricted for the past century to a small number of poverty-stricken areas, leaving half of the city’s Black population living in about 15 percent of its 59 neighborhoods. It added that 17 community districts had black populations of less than 5 percent even though blacks make up nearly 23 percent of the city’s population.
New York is in fact “really really segregated,” especially for African-Americans and Latinos, said the ADC.
A spokesman for the city’s Law Department said in a statement that the city will “review all the relevant facts and allegations once we are served with the suit and respond accordingly.”