Affordable Housing

Does Affordable Housing Perpetuate Racial Segregation?

A new lawsuit claims New York's affordable housing program discriminates against blacks and Latinos.

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The old community of West 99th Street, featured in the Reason TV documentary, "The Tragedy of Urban Renewal." |||

The Anti-Discrimination Center, a Manhattan-based non-profit, filed a lawsuit in federal court this week, claiming that New York City's affordable housing program perpetuates "entrenched segregation."

The lawsuit takes issue with a common policy in which affordable housing developers set aside 50 percent of the apartments in a new development for prospective tenants already living in the community district. This means access is "effectively prioritized for white residents" who already reside in neighborhoods with the best schools and amenities and "limited for African-American and Latino New Yorkers who do not," according to the lawsuit.

The Anti-Discrimination Center hasn't produced any empirical evidence to support this theory, but it's certainly correct on principle: No group has special claim to a neighborhood.

Sometimes politicians and developers are willing to take outrageous measures to preserve existing neighborhood demographics. Consider an affordable housing development on Manhattan's Upper West Side that was sold to the public in part as a way to help upper middle class residents feeling priced out of the neighborhood. To this end, some of the taxpayer-subsidized apartments in the building are targeted at families with annual incomes as high as $193,000. (For more on the project, see my July 2014 article, "New York City's Affordable Housing Bonanza for the Rich.")

In a June 2014 interview with Capital New York, City Council Member Helen Rosenthal (D-6th District), who actually negotiated with the developer to raise the building's income threshold, explained her logic.

"[W]hat makes the Upper West Side the Upper West Side," she told reporter Ryan Hutchins, "is that, 20, 30 years ago, a bunch of sort of lower-middle income families and individuals took a risk on [the neighborhood]…And the city, I think, has an obligation to find a way for these people to stay on the Upper West Side…"

Giving taxpayer-subsidized apartments to families that make four times New York City's household median income is obscene, but so is any policy that seeks to preserve a neighborhood's existing demographics. As the Anti-Discrimination Center lawsuit points out, this has the unintended consequence of making it more difficult for newcomers to move in to the neighborhood—a process that facilitates social mobility.

Take Harlem, which was home to a white community in 1904, when a black real estate entrepreneur named Philip Payton purchased two buildings on West 135th Street. Payton evicted the white tenants and rented the buildings to blacks, who, at the time, were mostly confined to living in a handful of run-down enclaves in Manhattan.

Thankfully, there were no government-subsidized apartments for existing residents to preserve the neighborhood as it was. Payton's gambit led blacks to move into Harlem en mass. By the 1920s, the neighborhood was the cultural capital of the African-American world.

For more on the great Philip Payton and why the government should never be allowed to influence neighborhood demographics, watch "The Tragedy of Urban Renewal," a 2011 Reason TV documentary I wrote and produced, which is narrated by Nick Gillespie:

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  1. OT:

    Plan to require background checks for ammunition sales is suspended in NY

    On Friday, a top aide to Mr. Cuomo signed a memorandum of understanding suspending the portion of the Safe Act related to the background checks. The memorandum, citing “the lack of adequate technology,” said the database “cannot be established and/or function in the manner originally intended at this time.”

    So, tech incompetence at the state level leads to part of the law being suspended. Good.

    1. I’m really surprised they actually suspended it. It’s once in a blue moon that politicians will (temporarily) give up on something just because it’s an expensive clusterfuck that is not likely to ever work.

    2. Thank you for sabotaging the program, Uncivil Servant.

  2. ?Anyone know the real story with the Kansas tax cuts and budget woes?

    1. Brownback and the legislature first cut taxes then imposed huge tax increases when they realized spending would suffer.

      1. Didnt they get federal money taken away at some point?

        1. No, or at least not enough to make a difference. Revenue projections in past budgets simply were not realized (the state assumed economic growth that didn’t happen). Instead of cutting popular programs like education, the legislature passed a slew of sales tax measures to make up for the shortfall.

      2. Sales tax went back up 0.5%. Its still lower than California sales tax.

        A few other things were cut/taxed.

        Basically, they overshot on cutting spending. So they revised the tax cuts a bit.

        The total were talking about it is like $300 million to $500 million dollars, or in Federal terms less than the cost overrun on one VA 185 bed hospital in Colorado.

        The progressives wet themselves in attacking Kansas, but they won’t mention IL or CA budget woes, which were much harder to fix.

        1. Kansas “restored the tax cuts” by imposing new draconian taxes on working people who don’t employ lobbyists and make campaign donations to protect their interests.

    2. Read an article recently that I now can’t find that argued the tax cuts were, to some extent, targeted and targeted in the wrong places. So they didn’t generate growth. The article argued that Brownback had fundamentally misunderstood the Laffer Curve argument.

      1. Yes, the Laffer curve doesn’t really work in this situation. It does make the state more attractive to investors and puts money back in the taxpayer’s pocket, but does not “pay for itself.”

        However, lower spending is almost always a good idea, as is the lowest possible tax base to support it.

        Kansas also has issues with small towns and education spending: hard to cut schools there.

    1. I like the waterfall of cascade cases, but need darker sky & to be shot at a greater distance or to be more closely spaced.

    2. It’s almost as if that shindig was sponsored by Reason Magazine. Why was there no Reason writer on site to report on it?

  3. This means access is “effectively prioritized for white residents” who already reside in neighborhoods with the best schools and amenities…

    White or not, “good schools” are characterized by high achieving students and are usually in neighborhoods where the parents take a big interest in the success of their children. You can’t merely change out the parents and have the schools remain at the same level of success.

    If parents want their children to go to successful schools, then they need to get involved in their education. There is no silver bullet.

    1. Nothing more iPads can’t fix.

  4. nice to know tht arbitrary violation of contracts is a high libertarian principle – at least youre applying that value equally.

    1. although i gues that gets a pass as it was done in the name of racial self-segregation, which is another esteemed libertarian virtue. anything to make sure the niggers want to stay away from decent white people

      1. What?

        1. It’s either Mary or Tulpa. Just ignore it.

          1. C’mon, everybody wants to poke it with a stick to see what oozes out.

          2. It could be American.

          3. It’s beautiful. Really motivating.

            We’re very lucky to have such a cautionary tale right in front of us. Failure is not an option, lest you end up like this loser.

        2. Projection. Either that or he’s responding to an article written in his head by one of his other personalities.

  5. it’s certainly correct on principle: No group has special claim to a neighborhood

    I think we all know the “solution” to this is still going to be principals over principles.

  6. Sometimes politicians and developers are willing to take outrageous measures to preserve existing neighborhood demographics.

    The starkest modern example I know of was Oak Park, Ill., at least as of the late 1970s. A quota system that cartelized all owner & rental housing in that Chi. suburb was in effect, wherein if you wanted to move in, you had to meet w the approval of the Housing Center. And this was established by “liberals” who took the social forces tending toward race segregation to be so strong that if you allowed an area to become too black it would drive out the whites, & if you let it become too white that was excluding blacks (which was the legacy of neighboring Cicero, where I wound up living).

    As to the issue at hand, however, could not reserving a portion of housing projects for people from the neighborhood be an attempt to compensate for the eviction of locals by demolition of their homes to build the project?

    1. an attempt to compensate for the eviction of locals

      I doubt it – I think that would require eminent domain which is hardly ever in play for residential buildings.

      1. I’m pretty sure plenty of units were demolished for the projects, and that condemnations were required.

        1. If that is the case why isn’t it all the over the news? It would be just as outrageous as other eminent domain cases like Barclays, The Times, and Columbia.

    2. Looks like the Housing Center’s still a going concern: http://theoakparker.com/2012/1…..e-oak-park

    3. “… could not reserving a portion of housing projects for people from the neighborhood be an attempt to compensate for the eviction of locals by demolition of their homes to build the project?”

      Well the government wrestles money from private developers for affordable housing(the government always has plans to build this eventually), which ends up being wasted on the bureaucracy of taking said money then no actual affordable housing gets built. This is when the government then not only forces developers to give them the money, but also build the housing for them because they are good at taking the money but not actually implementing strategies to create something tangible.

  7. Interesting basis to a lawsuit.

    I agree, if there’s going to be affordable housing (which I think actually creates more unaffordable housing issues than it solves but whatever), protecting the existing demographics of the neighborhood is officially enforcing segregation.

    The city likely made this rule to “protect” minority neighborhoods from gentrification as that is chic these days.

    1. The city likely made this rule to “protect” minority neighborhoods

      I would guess they do it to buy votes – same as everything else they do.

      1. The anti-gentrifiers are loud, I grant that, including those that are usually completely unaware that they’re also a gentrifying force (yes, your favorite organic fair trade coffeeshop sharing a corner with a liquor store in the ghetto is gentrification).

      2. Well, yeah, being anti-gentrification is a good way to buy votes…

        1. It’s funny because the same people who railed about white flight now rail about gentrification.

          1. ^This.

            Leave one to wonder whether progressives will ever be happy. Not!

            1. All we know is they’ll never stop.

      3. So, when are they going to start “protecting” Little Italy from the Chinese? Why didn’t they “protect” Italian Harlem from the Puerto Ricans (now Spanish Harlem) or “protect” Jewish South Bronx from the black people?

        Neighborhoods shouldn’t be protected under any circumstance. To ‘protect’ a neighborhood is by definition to interfere in the freedom of individuals to come and go and buy and sell property as they please. It’s retarded and totalitarian.

        1. Only replying because there’s no thumbs up button to hammer repeatedly…

  8. Another brilliant idea by our betters. Let’s isolate thousands of poor people in high rises at the ass end of the city. As someone who lived n the projects in the Bronx as a kid, I can tell you from experience what a hell hold they are. All types of vermin, broken elevators forcing you to climb 20 flights of stairs in dark stairways, isolation from the rest of the city, no parental oversight because they’re all up in the sky, no jobs.

    Then when my parents worked their way up to where they could afford to move to a better community, that community went Section 8 and in short order we were basically living in the projects again.

    At least I learned at a young age to despise central planners and liberal do-gooders. It’s the “Tonys’ of the world who make things like this possible, and I hate them enough to wish they had to personally experience the misery they cause.

  9. The solution to this problem is obvious. First two steps are the same as with any proper solution. First, create a blue ribbon committee of top men. Second, figure out the race of everyone involved. Then the top men just figure out the proper racial mix for each neighborhood. They then send out letter to everyone based on their race and let them know where they will be living from that point forward. Duh. At the same time the can tell them their new jobs (based solely on race, because relying on skills, education, and experience would be racist) so that they can also create the proper racial mix for employment as well. All jobs would pay the exact same amount so that you solve income inequality. Of course, rent and food prices would then need to be controlled as well. Health care would be free. i don’t know why it’s so hard for people to figure this out. It’s so simple even an idiot could come up with it.

    1. At which step do we make an MTV video about priviledge?

      1. All of them of course.

    2. You could win the Dem primary with that platform.

      1. JB is Jerry Brown? Damn. I didn’t see that.

        1. Thanks for outing me. Good thing I wasn’t on that woodchipper thread.

      2. Sad but true. I remember talking to some guy who complained that we could all be millionaires because the government can print all the money it wants. They just don’t do it because they hate poor people. His vote counts as much as everyone else.

      3. More correctly: whoever wins the Dem nomination will have that platform.

    3. The solution to this problem is obvious.

      *slow clap*

    4. It’s so simple even an idiot could come up with it.

      And many an idiot has. It’s the slippery slope into fascism that most progressives claim they can avoid–even the “democratic” socialist: Bernie Sanders.

      1. THIS TIME…it will be different.

  10. I like the looser, half-zoot suit pants back then. Hate the low-rise, tapered, slim fit trousers that’s the trend today.

    1. Need to bring back capes and canes too.

      1. Don’t forget the tophat.

        1. Monocles go with all forms of dress, so go without saying.

    2. Still working on your summer body?

      1. Hey man, us fatties deserve some love too! Well, I’m not anymore and I still don’t like pants feeling like tights. The only way I can be comfortable in them is to skip the underwear/boxers.. just try not to sweat…

  11. Yep, it looks like this is how the vile Obama and his Obamites are going to spend he lion’s share of his last year and a half in office: trying to figure out how he can force the white middle taxpayers that he loathes to his core to absorb the minority layabout underclass into their tranquil neighborhoods.

    This is classic Alinskyism at it’s best, and I’m actually a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t see this coming, because I should have, given that I had Obama pegged seven years ago.

    1. Obama pegged seven years ago

      Michelle? That you?

    1. “It was the same spot where Hamilton’s son had died defending his father’s honor in 1801.”

      I was not aware of that. Interesting.

  12. “[W]hat makes the Upper West Side the Upper West Side,” she told reporter Ryan Hutchins, “is that, 20, 30 years ago, a bunch of sort of lower-middle income families and individuals took a risk on [the neighborhood]?And the city, I think, has an obligation to find a way for these people to stay on the Upper West Side?”

    And Ms. Rosenthal, I think, can go suck canal water; the city owes these people nothing.

  13. So I take it that the Anti-Discrimination Center now agrees that government has no business dictating to landowners what they can and cannot do with their property, and that the free market is the best determinant of what housing should and should not be on offer. Right?

    Right?

  14. Giving taxpayer-subsidized apartments to families that make four times New York City’s household median income is obscene, but so is any policy that seeks to preserve a neighborhood’s existing demographics.

    The system was and will always be slanted for white advantage. Or so history shows.

  15. Reason hasn’t covered Obama’s AFFH overreach?

  16. Of course “Affordable Housing” perpetuates racial segregation. EVERY Liberal/Progressive domestic policy perpetuates racial segregation. The Liberal/Progressive strategy REQUIRES a large, oppresssed-feeling underclass to manipulate. They have their hooks set so deep in the Black population that the Plantation Owners would weep with envy.

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  18. Im making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

    This is what I do! .. http://www.homejobs20.cf

  19. I would like to comment, but unless the current regime is replaced by one far less hostile to our civil liberties it’s really not safe to do so.

    1. Just don’t mention wood chipper and any government officials in the same sentence and you should be OK.

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  21. I think it’s funny that the “no neighborhood is for just one group” assertion only works when it’s minorities moving into white neighborhoods and not the other way around. These “advocates” have raised holy hell over whites moving into Harlem and Brooklyn. They decry gentrification that would improve the schools and other sevices in the neighborhood but they want want to be able to move anywhere they want and have u and I pay the tab while they work part time at Burger King. Thank God congress passed the FY 2016 T&H bill with the Gosar amendment prohibiting any funding of Obama’s communist AFFH scam. I checked on Friday as the bill is now in the Senate with the Gosar amendment in tact and it is expected to pass overwhemingly. If you want to live in Scarsdale get off your ass get your college degree and a job and work for it. Millions of minorities all over this country have done it and are living their dream. They didn’t sit around waiting for the government to pay their way.

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