New York City Outsider-Restriction Policy Challenged

Affordable Housing |

Scroll down for case filings and developments and go here, here, and here for plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.

July 7, 2015 — The Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC), acting on behalf of three African-American plaintiffs, is challenging 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. The complaint was filed in federal district court in Manhattan today.

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 patterns of segregation in New York City are unmistakable, and arose from decades of intentional discrimination and segregation.

they’re our neighborhoods, too

A new study from ADC, based on field interviews with well over 600 New Yorkers — overwhelmingly African-American; the balance Latino — is out.  

The study demonstrates that a strong majority of each group is willing to consider a wide range of  mobility options.

Read the study

The segregation extends to the community district level. Because of this, the City’s policy in connection with half of the units in a development — favoring existing community district residents and disfavoring New Yorkers who live outside the community district — winds up helping the dominant racial or ethnic group in the community district and hurting those groups who are underrepresented in the community district. In other words, the City has long started with mostly segregated community districts and has then put in place a process that tips the scales in favor of the status quo.

The developments identified in the complaint are all in community districts where whites are overrepresented and where African-Americans are underrepresented. The lawsuit aims to open up neighborhoods of opportunity to all New Yorkers. Eliminating the outsider-restriction policy would allow all income-eligible New Yorkers to compete on a level playing field.

Craig Gurian, ADC’s executive director, said: “If in 2015 we can’t agree that all our neighborhoods belong to all of us, it’s a very sad state of affairs.”

More about residential segregation in New York

Contrary to its reputation for diversity, New York City is really, really segregated:
  • Especially for African-Americans, there has been less decline in segregation from 1980 to 2010 than in most other major cities;
  • 17 of 59 community districts have an African-American population of less than 5 percent;
  • 14 of 59 community districts have a combined African-American and Latino population of less than 20 percent;
  • 17 of 59 community districts have a combined African-American and Latino population of 80 percent or more;
  • The “center of gravity” of the African-American population (where about 50 percent of the African-Americans in the City live) is comprised of only 9 of 59 community districts; the equivalent center of gravity for whites is compromised of of only 13 community districts.
  • Of those 22 “center of gravity” community districts, there is zero overlap (not one that is a part of the center of gravity for both African-Americans and whites).

Abandoning the outsider-restriction policy will not change income eligibility

It is important to understand that, whether an insider or an outsider, a New Yorker must meet the same income-eligibility criteria in order to be eligible for the affordable housing being developed.  In other words, the outsider-restriction policy has no impact on the ability of persons of limited financial means to obtain housing.  The outsider-restriction policy does not determine where housing will be built, only who (among people of the same income level) will get to live in it.

Our co-counsel: Cuti Hecker Wang LLP

Cuti Hecker Wang LLP is a six-attorney civil rights litigation boutique.  Its practice focuses primarily on employment discrimination and retaliation, including sexual assault and harassment, housing discrimination, First Amendment issues, children’s rights, election law, police misconduct, and prisoners’ rights.