NYC revamps housing lotto to settle suit claiming racial 'segregation'

NEWS: NYC revamps housing lotto to settle suit claiming racial ‘segregation’

New York City agreed to slash its practice of giving residents first dibs on new affordable apartments in their neighborhoods after settling a landmark federal lawsuit that claimed the Big Apple’s housing lottery promoted segregation.

The decades-old “community preference” policy had reserved 50% of any affordable units offered in the city’s housing lottery for residents who already lived in the neighborhoods.

But under the settlement approved Monday by Manhattan federal judge Laura Taylor Swain, the Big Apple will soon only set aside 20% of units for those locals vying to win the housing lottery in their own neighborhoods.

That preference for affordable apartments will then shrink again by 2029 to just 15%.

The change means the majority of new affordable apartments 80% initially will now be offered up to those who live in other zip codes.

The landmark agreement signals the end of a long-running lawsuit first filed by the Anti-Discrimination Center back in 2015 that argued the so-called community preference policy violated federal fair housing law by boosting segregation.

Mayor Eric Adams’ administration reached a settlement to limit the city’s “community preference” for the housing lottery policy. Kevin C. Downs for NY Post

Craig Gurian, executive director of the center, hailed the city’s settlement as a victory, blasting the old policy as “a con job.”

“For the first time, we are moving away from the idea of racial turf and, as required by paragraph 12 of the Order, telling applicants and potential applicants that every neighborhood should belong to all of us regardless of where we come from and regardless of where we want to move,” Gurian said.

“City officials have turned away from the discredited politics of racial turf and said out loud, in words, that all of our neighborhoods need to belong to all of us.”

A luxury development building in East Harlem
The decades-old “community preference” policy had required 50% of any affordable units offered in the city’s housing lotteries to be reserved for residents in the neighborhoods where the development was going up. AP

The “for locals only” policy, which dates back to the Mayor Ed Koch era, was upped from 30% to 50% under Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s administration.

The lawsuit, which was subsequently filed during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tenure, had argued that the policy unlawfully limited choices of those wanting to move outside of their neighborhoods and prevented the racial makeup of areas from changing.

Data collected by the Anti-Discrimination Center, which was included in the suit, showed that each affordable unit up for grabs attracted an average of 430 applications and more than 85% of them were from outside the area.

The legal saga developed last May when the judge approved the case for trial, prompting Mayor Eric Adams’ administration to enter settlement talks.

Hizzoner told The Post during his 2021 mayoral campaign that he wanted to restrict community preference to a few neighborhoods but on Tuesday said that allowing community preference was a “double-edged sword.”

“We had to decide: Are we going to lose it all; or do we want to salvage as much as possible,” Adams said of the lengthy negotiations during an unrelated press conference.

“Community preference is a very interesting conversation because it can be helpful and it can be harmful … Because there’s some communities that have not allowed people to come in and live,” he continued.

“As much as we think we live in an integrated city, we don’t. We live in a hugely segregated city and many people have prevented building in communities to keep people out.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will have to display a statement on the affordable housing lottery website that reads: “New York City is committed to the principle of inclusivity in all of its neighborhoods, including supporting New Yorkers to reside in neighborhoods of their choice, regardless of their neighborhood of origin and regardless of the neighborhood into which they want to move.”

The city also agreed to fork out $100,000 each to Shauna Noel and Emmanuella Senat the two black housing lottery applicants who were listed as the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit after being denied units outside their neighborhoods.

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