This lawsuit challenges a plan by New York City to build affordable housing on the Broadway Triangle, a 31-acre parcel of city-owned land located in a highly segregated area of Brooklyn. Plaintiffs' maintain that the project would create dramatic racial disparities and increase existing severe segregation in the area. They argue that the city's approach to developing the land violates the federal Fair Housing Act, state and city human rights laws, and the equal protection clause. The Broadway Triangle sits at the border of Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant, neighborhoods marred by longstanding racial and religious segregation.
In 2006, the city began the process of developing affordable housing in the Brooklyn Triangle. That process did not include an analysis of how the plan to build affordable housing would affect the area's severe racial segregation. As the recipient of federal housing funds, the city was required to perform this analysis under federal law. The city worked exclusively to support an affordable housing proposal by the United Jewish Organizations (UJO) and its partner Ridgewood Brooklyn Senior Citizens Council (RBSCC) – both nonprofit groups. The UJO serves a particular portion of Brooklyn's Hasidic community. The RBSCC is located outside of Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant and does not provide services to either neighborhood. The organizations' proposal would develop affordable housing on three large parcels within the Broadway Triangle. The development would consume 40 percent of land available for affordable housing at the site. The project includes residency preferences that would advantage residents of the predominantly white Community District 1 to the detriment of residents in the largely black and Latino Community District 3. Other aspects of the project, including building height restrictions and a disproportionate amount of large apartments, unnecessarily limits the amount of affordable housing the development would produce. In December 2009, the New York City Council overwhelmingly approved the proposal over the objections of local black and Latino residents.
On Dec. 22, 2009, State Supreme Court Justice Emily Goodman granted plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order preventing the city from moving ahead with the development plan. The court proceeding was stayed on Oct. 21, 2010 after press reports indicated that the U.S. Attorney's office had launched an investigation into the very same issues at the heart of the litigation. The stay was lifted on May 20, 2011. The court held an evidentiary hearing on plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction over the course of eight days between July 14 and Sept. 14, 2011. During the hearing, plaintiffs presented evidence demonstrating that the project would perpetuate severe segregation. It also highlighted many less segregative and discriminatory development options that are readily available.
On Jan. 4, 2012, Judge Goodman granted plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary junction, barring the city from moving forward with the development. The judge ruled that plaintiffs had demonstrated the likelihood that they would succeed at trial on the merits of the case.
State Supreme Court, New York County, Index No. 112799/09 (direct)