Hasidic affordable housing called into question

May 9, 2013 8:24:20 PM PDT
The melting pot that is New York is getting stirred up and not in a good way.

A battle in some Brooklyn neighborhoods is now escalating.

The issue: Are Hasidic Jews getting affordable housing at the expense of blacks and Latinos?

The new low-rise apartments in Williamsburg are big and spacious and, by government mandate, affordable, and everyone who lives there is Hasidic.

"Blacks and Latinos remain on the outside looking in," said Juan Ramos, an activist.

Blacks and Latinos in the neighborhood say that the city has conspired with politically connected groups to provide affordable housing strictly for Hasidic families in the area known as the Broadway Triangle, where Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Greenpoint come together.

"That left out what would be the opportunities for black and Latinos to participate in this process, therefore not having access to any units," said Councilwoman Diana Reyna, (D) Williamsburg.

The 2010 census for the area it refers to as Tract 509, shows a decline in Hispanics of 52% over a decade earlier and an increase of whites, including Hasidim of 279%, and many there say that the city helped these exclusively Hasidic developments.

"It's inappropriate for the city to have allowed it to happen this way, to have stimulated it, to authorize it, and not to create protections," said Martin Neederman, attorney.

"The City has the blame and they also have the obligation to stop what's going on and allow the people to come to the table and allow for this community to show the diversity that exists by allowing everyone to be included in the affordable housing that's built," Ramos said.

There is a lot of construction for affordable housing on the drawing board in the neighborhood. Councilwoman Reyna wants to make sure that new spaces as they are developed are available to all New Yorkers, not just Hasidic families.

"Our children should be able to learn from one another's culture, our children should be able to respect one another's culture," Ramos said.