The Yonkers Housing Case presents an interesting balance between logical planning and racism, known as “political feasibility” in this context. This concept is interesting to me because it is the first time I have read about a white community openly saying that they don’t want affordable housing in their neighborhoods strictly out of fear or animosity towards the population that might occupy the buildings.

On the opposite side of the coin you have city planners that have chosen a location that actually makes sense for affordable housing. The corner of the city in which the affordable housing was going to be placed was inundated by substandard multifamily housing. By choosing to build here, the city of Yonkers would be able to wipe out these existing structures. Public transportation was also easily accessible, as the subway system, commuter rails and bus stops were all within walking distance, making it attractive for families who couldn’t afford cars. On top of all this, the majority of the cities poor population resided in the southwest corner as it was, making it the ideal location for housing.

Understandably, the Justice Department and the NAACP brought suit against Yonkers and the HUD for allowing this act of segregation to go on without consequence. Tried for de facto school segregation relating to the rules set forth by Brown v. BOE back in 1954, the city and HUD were found to be guilty by the Southern District Court of New York.

This is where everything starts to get interesting to me. In spite of being found guilty of segregation, the citizens of Yonkers still had no problem with the stereotypical views they were associating with the lower income population that resided in the affordable housing communities. So much so in fact, that they found the judge responsible for the original ruling and picketed outside of his summer home. To make things even more interesting, the judges summer home was located in a predominantly white neighborhood, leading the white population of Yonkers to believe he was nothing more than a hypocrite.

After a bunch of deliberation and political attention, the housing units were finally constructed on several different sites, including the southwest corner of the city. According to the Municipal Housing Authority, the housing was nicely integrated into the neighborhoods and everybody lived happily ever after.

Personally I believe the last paragraph of the text to be garbage. I just don’t see how anybody who was so against affordable housing at one point in time can accept the fact that they lost and move on. There’s still going to be an underlying tension between the citizens who occupied the neighborhoods before and the new low-income residents. To me, I think it’s pretty obvious that the Municipal Housing Authority is trying to put a pretty face on the situation to make it seem like everybody rode off into the sunset and got what they wanted.

 

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