Arun Venugopal is a reporter and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005, and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center and Occupy Wall Street .
Activists Say Brooklyn Development Is Discriminatory, Favors Hasidic Residents
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 02:25 PM
Brooklyn community groups on Wednesday applauded a judge’s decision last week to block the development of an East Williamsburg housing project because they felt it favored Hasidic residents over other residents.
The plan to create new, low-income housing – known as the Broadway Triangle housing project – had been stalled in court for more than two years before it was again blocked last week by the Judge Emily Jane Goodman of State Supreme Court, who wrote that the city had failed to consider how the project would affect racial segregation in the area.
Opponents of the project argue the city plan would have given preference to Hasidic area residents, at the expense of black residents hoping to secure affordable housing.
"Some demographers have noted that if the city's Broadway Triangle plan were to be implemented, less than three percent of residents in the new housing will be Afro-American," said including Rep. Nydia Velasquez.
The judge specifically pointed to an over-emphasis on three and four bedroom apartments meant for Hassidic families, writing that "while approximately 9,000 Yiddish speaking individuals in Community Districts 1 and 3 needed large apartments, there are approximately 90,000 blacks and Hispanics who would need small apartments."
“The court recognized that from the very beginning of this planning process, the major groups in the community that should’ve had a seat at the table were excluded all along,” said Taylor Pendergrass of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
A city attorney said the claims were "outlandish" and "have no merit."
"The proposed plans for the development help to meet the affordable housing needs of the community while preserving the overall physical scale of the neighborhood," Gabriel Taussig, a city attorney, said in a statement.