A federal lawsuit challenging New York City’s practice of setting aside affordable apartments for nearby residents is still alive after a judge on Monday rejected a bid by the de Blasio administration to have the case dismissed.
In an action brought by the Anti-Discrimination Center, three Black New Yorkers say they have entered lotteries for affordable apartments but not been selected, and that they plan to enter future lotteries for other affordable apartments. In both the past and future cases, they claim, the “community preference” policy stands as a barrier to their getting a fair shot at housing.
That policy, begun under Mayor Koch and expanded under Mayor Bloomberg, sets aside 50 percent of apartments in new affordable housing developments for residents of the local community board.
The lawsuit claims the policy perpetuates residential segregation in New York by giving residents of segregated neighborhoods a better chance to win the lotteries, reducing the odds that outsiders might come in to diversify the community. (Key background on the case is here.)
Supporters of the policy counters that it is a bulwark against displacement. The community preference policy also plays a crucial political role in making sure that neighborhoods where new housing is built benefit directly from it—a key selling point for rezonings and other steps that make neighborhoods more dense.
Monday’s ruling (which can be read here) didn’t address the strength of evidence in the case; instead, it analyzed whether the logic of the lawsuit gave the plaintiffs standing to sue and presented a plausible claim. The de Blasio administration has argued that it does neither, in part because the lotteries where the plaintiffs have struck out in the past were governed by a state policy, not the city one.
But the judge ruled the possibility of future discrimination in subsequent housing lotteries gave the plaintiffs the right to make their case.
The next scheduled action in the case is a pre-trial conference in early December.
City Limits’ coverage of housing and development is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation and the New York Community Trust.