Lawsuit alleges city engages in affordable housing discrimination

Cyril Josh Barker | 7/9/2015, 10:08 a.m.
The Anti-Discrimination Center and a group of African-Americans filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Manhattan accusing the city ...

The Anti-Discrimination Center and a group of African-Americans filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Manhattan accusing the city of discrimination when providing affordable housing.

In the suit, the plaintiffs say New York City’s policy of barring city residents who live outside the community district in which affordable housing is being built from competing on an equal basis for all available units is discrimination.

The three developments identified in the complaint—at 160 Madison Ave., 200 E. 39th St. and 40 Riverside Blvd., all in Manhattan—are all in community districts where whites are overrepresented and where African-Americans are underrepresented.

The ADC reports that New York City remains the second-most residentially segregated major city in the country, within one of the most segregated major metropolitan areas in the U.S. The segregation extends to the community district level. Approximately 50 percent of the city’s African-American population lives in approximately 15 percent of the city’s community districts. Because of existing segregation, New York City’s policy is illegal in connection with half of the units in a development.

“As the Supreme Court has just reaffirmed, policies that have a disparate impact on racial and ethnic minorities or perpetuate segregation are illegal under the Fair Housing Act,” said Craig Gurian, ADC’s executive director and co-counsel for plaintiff. “The city’s outsider-restriction policy starts with segregated neighborhoods and helps keep that segregation in place.”