Dear Amsterdam News,

I am sure your paper is aware of the unbridled elitist arrogance of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who seeks to micromanage the lives of the “little people,” defends “stop-and-frisk,” denied city workers a contract for four years and wants to wreck the teachers’ union. I hope you are also aware that he may well be the greatest segregationist politician in U.S. history in both racial and class terms.

Whereas traditional segregationists like George Wallace and Lester Maddox sought to maintain a status quo of existing racial segregation, Bloomberg, in cahoots with real estate developers and landlords, has sought to put an end to integration, or avoid it in the first place, in “gentrifying” communities primarily in Brooklyn but also in Manhattan and elsewhere. In formerly working-class areas like Bushwick, Williamsburg, Clinton Hill and Greenpoint, the city has used the Section 8 program, intended to provide affordable housing to homeless families, to move thousands of minority families in rent-controlled or stabilized apartments out of their units in these now trendy areas.

These families are offered incentives to move, and of course their rent under Section 8 is paid for by the city. The landlords benefit because once they control 15 percent of the units, the building can be converted to co-ops or condos, and any vacated unit can be sold or rented at market to yuppies, hipsters and Eurotrash. Real estate developers benefit because they can point out to potential buyers that the area has the “right” demographics, i.e., is largely white and rich. The displaced families are moved to the ungentrified fringes of the city (e.g., Staten Island, Coney Island, Bensonhust and southern Queens).

Bloomberg has also had to contend with a nagging problem in his segregation program. Namely, the presence of many city-owned housing projects in the gentrifying areas with large minority populations, e.g., the Red Hook Houses (Red Hook), the Marcy Houses (Fort Greene) and the Bond Street Houses (Boerum Hill). In addition to the Section 8 program to get families to relocate, the city is now warehousing units vacated for any reason in these projects—about 28,000 to date, I believe. No such warehousing is taking place in housing projects in Coney Island, the Bronx or the Rockaways, as these locations are beyond the spread of gentrification and will be used to house many of those “relocated” from upscale communities. Eventually, the projects in “hot areas” will be sufficiently emptied to be either condemned as unsafe and demolished, suitable for luxury housing development, or renovated and converted to co-ops or condos for the upper middle class. The goal is to remove minorities and working-class people in general from these “revitalized” communities.

The mainstream media, of course, will not report this, as it is controlled by the very parties that support and often benefit directly from this segregationist policy.


Martin Brahms

Brooklyn, MBA,

Pace University, class of 1984