A State Supreme Court judge Wednesday granted a preliminary injunction barring New York City from moving forward with a controversial plan to develop affordable housing along the border of Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The area, known as The Broadway Triangle, was the planned site for what would become the city’s largest affordable housing plan – one that opponents claimed would have created dramatic racial disparities and increased existing segregation in its surrounding neighborhoods.
The plaintiffs – a diverse coalition of community organizations representing mostly black and Latino resident groups from both Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamsburg – sought the injunction, arguing that the plan to build affordable housing in the Broadway Triangle violates the federal Fair Housing Act, state and city human rights laws, and the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
Justice Emily Goodman granted the injunction on the plaintiffs’ claims under the Fair Housing Act, ruling the plaintiffs had demonstrated the likelihood that they would succeed at trial on the merits of the case.
“There can be no compliance with the Fair Housing Act where defendants never analyzed the impact of the community preference,” she wrote in her decision.
In 2006, the City began the initially development of the housing plan, working exclusively to support an affordable housing proposal by the Ridgewood Brooklyn Senior Citizens Council (RBSCC) and its partner, the United Jewish Organizations (UJO), which serves a portion of Brooklyn’s Hasidic community.
Community organizations and residents objected to the plan at the outset, claiming it did not include an analysis of how the plan to build affordable housing would affect the area’s severe racial segregation.
The project as proposed would have given priority for affordable housing to people who live in a certain section of Williamsburg. While the Bedford-Stuyvesant area is 77 percent black, a demographer found that only three percent of residents in the new housing to be built in the Broadway Triangle would be black.
The judge’s ruling barring the city from moving ahead with the development plan will have a far-reaching impact on future similar cases whereby the City will be legally obligated to consider segregation when planning affordable housing.
Marty Needelman, chief counsel of Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A said, “After fighting for this just cause for over two years, we are thrilled with the court's ruling. We hope the city will seize on the opportunity to move forward with a much more inclusive affordable housing plan through a much more inclusive process.”
“After years of trying, the people were finally given justice and a role in the process that we were left out of,” said Juan Ramos, chair of the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition. “Our community is desperate for affordable housing, and we’re hopeful we’re now a step closer to inclusive and representative housing, not housing that perpetuates segregation.”