At least one hundred members of the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition rallied on Thursday at the intersection of Union and Walton Street at the border of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamburg protesting what they are calling unjust zoning for the development of segregated, exclusionary housing in the area.
The coalition of 40 neighborhood groups alleges that, as a result of the City's 2009 re-zoning, the triangle area of land resulting from the intersection of Union, Broadway and Flushing avenues is being developed by Hasidics exclusively for Hasidic families, with no public marketing or availability.
The affected land is privately owned. However, the coalition claims that the re-zoning resulted from a political deal between Assemblyman Vito Lopez and United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg that was supported by the mayor at a time when affordable housing development should have been a priority.
The group of mostly Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy residents said the members of their organization were excluded from the planning process and that aside from providing housing exclusively for Hasidic families, the plan gave 50 percent preference to residents of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and not Bed-Stuy.
"The reason why this community is so upset about what is happening here is because we've called this community home forever when no one wanted to come to this area," Juan Ramos, chair of the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, told Bed-Stuy Patch at the rally. "Now that this community is thriving, the Latinos are getting priced out by the new developments."
In 2009, the Coalition sued to stop the plan's implementation, and in December 2012, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Emily Goodman issued a preliminary injunction blocking the plan, calling it a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act by continuing a long standing pattern of discrimination against African-Americans and Latinos in South Williamsburg.
However, although the litigation challenged the city's re-zoning, Judge Goodman's decision only addressed proposed actions in the plan for the specific site. As a result, already the development of more so-called exclusionary housing has continued at 59 Walton Street, across from the Triangle, which the marchers also were protesting.
A group of Hasidic men and young boys watched the protesters from across Union Street, and one, who gave the name "Sam" said he really didn't understand why the protesters were complaining:
"It's not public housing. This is a private entity," said Sam. "A guy bought a lot and built houses, and now they're up for sale. And if any of them want, they can buy it; nobody is stopping them from buying. It's not public housing, so I just don't understand what they're talking about."
"The units that are going up are not affordable for us," said Ramos. "What's happening in this community is that here, if you're not wealthy or if you're not politically connected or religiously connected, you're on the outs."