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Housing Discrimination in New York City

Housing Discrimination in New York City

Now that the Magistrate Judge overseeing the discovery phase of the racial discrimination case challenging New York City's outsider-restriction policy in its affordable housing lotteries has ruledthat the reports of plaintiffs' expert can no longer be kept secret, the powerful evidence that the City's policy operates to deny New Yorkers on the basis of race the opportunity to compete for affordable housing on a level playing field is finally in the public domain.

Professor Andrew Beveridge, one of the leading demographers in the country, analyzed over 7 million lottery applications and the results of 168 different lotteries.  He examined the impact of the outsider-restriction policy (priority for community district residents for 50 percent of units, even if those insiders represent only 5 or 10 percent of all the City residents who apply to a lottery) at three different stages of the lottery process: all entrants to the lottery; those entrants who are apparently qualified; and those entrants who were awarded units.  The law is clear that denying equal opportunity at ANY stage is illegal.

Professor Beveridge found that outsider-restriction resulted in clear racial disparities at EVERY STAGE of the process and in EVERY type of community district that had a majority of residents of one race or ethnicity.  It was always the majority group that was helped most by the policy, and always one or more other groups that were hurt significantly

In other words, New York City persists in 2019 with a policy that advantages Whites and disadvantages African-Americans when it comes to getting affordable housing in majority White community districts.  Likewise, Latinos are among those hurt by the policy in majority African-American community districts, and African-Americans are among those hurt by the policy in majority Latino districts.

Professor Beveridge's report also resoundingly confirmed the common-sense proposition that New Yorkers do not cling exclusively to their existing community district.  On the contrary, they are prepared to look for affordable housing throughout the City.  Only 7 percent of unique lottery applicants limited their applications exclusively to their community district.  By contrast, 87 percent applied OUTSIDE of their community district at least three-quarters of the time.

"All the African-American plaintiffs in this case want is an equal-access lottery where you are given the same chance regardless of what neighborhood you are coming from and regardless of what neighborhood you wish to move to," said Craig Gurian, co-counsel for plaintiffs and executive director of the Anti-Discrimination Center, "but the City prefers to continue to tell African-Americans 'we'll boost your odds as long as you want to stay in your own neighborhoods; but we'll hold you back it's your choice to move to a different part of the City.'"

On hearing that Vicki Been, the de Blasio administration's deputy mayor for housing and economic development, has defended the policy by saying in part that "Segregation is a question of choice," Craig Gurian, ADC's executive director stated: "That view is profoundly ahistorical, contradicts every study of African-American residential preferences that has been performed, and makes no sense in a crowded City where any claim that a neighborhood is for 'our group' is necessarily a claim that the neighborhood is not for other groups."

The reports are available here.

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