“A Statement About Who Deserves to Live Here”: The Fair Housing Act Implications of Housing New York

By Pablo Zevallos

New York City faces the twin problems of housing segregation and a shortage of affordable housing. In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio developed Housing New York, a plan to create or preserve 300,000 affordable units across a variety of income bands. As part of this plan, the City instituted inclusionary zoning policies and modified density caps in certain neighborhoods while targeting units for households in a range of income brackets citywide. Yet many residents and community advocates have long argued that homes developed under the plan are unaffordable to working-class, disproportionately affecting Black and Latino New Yorkers.

This Note takes a first pass at analyzing the plan’s compliance with the Fair Housing Act of 1968 through the lens of the plan’s income affordability targets and its household targets (the latter being deciphered through the aforementioned changes to city policy on density and the number of bedrooms targeted in new housing units). It examines key neighborhood demographics for communities targeted for inclusionary zoning and argues that the plan’s income affordability targets and its household targets, taken together with the City’s existing community preference policy, likely have a disparate impact on Black and Latino New Yorkers by disproportionately denying members of these communities housing and by perpetuating segregation within and between neighborhoods. This Note then propose a non-comprehensive set of remedies that would fall within jurisprudential constraints on Fair Housing Act cases.

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