Thirteen years ago, a federal judge handed down a 400-page decision declaring that the city of Yonkers was racially segregated and demanding that the city begin integrating schools and public housing.
For almost a decade, local politicians and white homeowners fought the decree to the point of nearly wiping out the city treasury–Councilman Nicolas Longo predicted that if scattered-site housing went up, “You could just take out an eraser and cross out the line between Yonkers and the Bronx.”
It turns out Longo didn’t have much to be worried about. Five years after the first 200 units of low-rise public housing have been planted in white neighborhoods, property values have held steady and black tenants are mostly happy in their new homes.
But the public housing residents have been re-segregated into mini-ghettos and few on other side of that fence expect that to change any time soon. In the September/October issue of City Limits magazine, now on newsstands, Associate Editor Kathleen McGowan reports on Yonkers’ uneasy peace and what that may mean for other scattered-site programs, widely considered the future of public housing.