The Real Deal New York

Ruling blocks city from developing Broadway Triangle project

By David Jones | January 04, 2012 06:30PM

A State Supreme Court judge issued an injunction against the Bloomberg administration’s plan to build a controversial affordable housing project on the Williamsburg border with Bedford Stuvyesant, citing evidence that the complex will perpetuate discrimination in the so-called Broadway Triangle urban renewal area.

The plaintiffs, a coalition of black and Latino residents in the Bed-Stuy area, presented expert testimony before Judge Emily Goodman in August 2011 that politically connected members of the Hasidic community have received preferences for affordable housing in the South Williamsburg area, despite a waiting list that is overwhelmingly black and Latino.

The suit alleges that the Bloomberg administration steered affordable housing to allies of Brooklyn party boss Assemblyman Vito Lopez and the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, at the expense of blacks, Latinos and rival Hasidic groups.

Goodman, in her order, mocked the city’s efforts to explain away the alleged bias:

“In most surprising language, the city asserts that the court cannot ignore the possibility that blacks have chosen not to apply to move into affordable housing in Williamsburg because of a personal preference not to live in that area,” Goodman wrote. “Thus, according to the mayor and his co-defendants, the reason for blacks comprising only a minute portion of the applicant pool in Williamsburg is . . . ‘the most likely explanation is individual choice.’”

Goodman later wrote that it would be “easily understood” if someone “took offense” to the city’s explanation.

Advocates for the plaintiffs hailed the decision, saying the ruling would have implications beyond the immediate Broadway Triangle dispute.

“Today’s ruling shows that the city’s Housing Plan For The Broadway Triangle would perpetuate segregation and discrimination in an area that has been heavily segregated for far too long,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, in a statement.

The city is not backing down and plans to fight the ruling.

“We respectfully disagree with the judge’s decision and will seek an immediate appeal,” said Gabriel Taussig, chief of the administrative law division of the New York City Department of Law. “The court mistakenly discounted evidence submitted by the city. After a two-year long temporary restraining order, we are grateful the judge has finally made a decision which now allows us to refute these outlandish claims before an appellate court.”