Local housing activists scored a victory this week with a restraining order halting the development of a small, but very controversial patch of land.
Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH) and Brooklyn Residents Against Segregated Housing (BRASH) filed — and were granted — a temporary restraining order against New York City and real estate developer The Rabsky Group for allegedly developing segregated housing on the Pfizer site in the Broadway Triangle that borders Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Bed-Stuy.
BRASH claims that the city failed to consider the potential impacts of segregation and displacement on the neighborhood when the Pfizer site was rezoned last year. The Rabsky Group owns two blocks of the Broadway Triangle, and its current plan to develop the site would build around 1,200 housing units in seven new buildings. Of those units, 287 would be affordable housing, according to a report from Curbed. Activists say that number is not enough.
Alexandra Fennell, a spokeswoman of CUFFH, which represents over 3,000 families in North Brooklyn, says that the city violated the Fair Housing Act by failing to conduct a racial impact study of the rezoning.
“The Fair Housing Act dictates that the city must affirmatively further Fair Housing, and the spirit of the act applies at all levels of housing policy,” Fennell told Bushwick Daily in an email.
“This means that they should not just limit segregation but take affirmative steps to integrate communities. There was no study of the effects that 1200 units which will predominately be occupied by white families will have on the deeply segregated Broadway Triangle. It is impossible for this project to be in compliance with the Fair Housing,” Fennell said.
Fennell believes that the development furthers segregation because the market rate of the housing would be out of reach for many local residents.
“Inserting a building that will dramatically increase the white population of Williamsburg and be essentially inaccessible to the black families across the street in Bed-Stuy is heightening segregation,” said Fennell. “Not to mention the likely heightened displacement of residents of color due to increased speculation as a result of the introduction of nearly 1000 market-rate units.”
The temporary restraining order granted by Mayor de Blasio, a first for his administration, shows that these issues are significant, says Fennell.
“[It] should signal to the city that New York City policies do not alter obligations to integrate and foster inclusivity under the Fair Housing Act.”
Cover image from the Bushwick Daily archives