Recently, I was asked by some friends in West End, how one gets Public Housing in New Rochelle. It seemed to me that my friend was eligible: he was working class with three kids and based on his income, he should be eligible and at least he would be placed on a waiting list. What I found out was even more dramatic.
Twenty years ago, right out of law school, I worked in legal aid in Texas where we found that African-Americans and Latinos frequently encountered discrimination when searching for housing at all stages: upon entering a realtor’s office they received inferior service, they were told fewer homes were available and they were shown fewer homes than whites were. But now in 2013, I discovered different issues, which is alarming.
According to the US Census, in 2012:
• There were 74,323 people in New Rochelle
• 19.9% were Latinos :and
• 18.95 were African Americans.
In our Public Schools, according to NYS Department of Education (2011 report Card), we had 10,596 children in our schools:
• 41% were Latinos
• 24% were African-Americans; and
• 31% were White
So how does this parlay into how our Public Housing looks like? Our New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority, as an instrument of the federal Housing Urban Development (HUD) effort, is required to administer its public housing programs in ways that affirmatively further fair housing and encourage greater residential integration. Public Housing edifices are often built away from affluent neighborhoods. Housing authorities often yielded to public and political pressure not to locate public housing or its tenants in white neighborhoods (i.e. on Wilmot Rd; on Pinebrook; on Quaker Ridge etc…).
Given the persistence and prevalence of housing segregation throughout Westchester County, it is evident that, despite New Rochelle’s expressed concern about persistent disparities in the enjoyment of, in particular, the right to adequate housing, New Rochelle has not satisfactorily complied with its obligations under federal law. Look at the following New Rochelle Housing Authority Household Composition Report that they provided in February 2013:
Total African-American Latino
Hartley Houses 393 362 22
Bracey Apts 247 230 11
Queen City Tower 110 79 12
LaRochelle Manor 88 68 1
My question to Mayor Bramson and Steve Horton, Director of the NR Housing authority is – Any thoughts on how we could be more inclusionary?