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Westchester County's Pathetic Attempt At Desegregation Enrages Activist


Two years ago one of the nation's wealthiest counties was mandated by a court decree to desegregate its residential areas after receiving federal dollars for fair housing.  Today, Westchester County makes a mockery of this decision by building affordable housing units that are on the outskirts of the whitest and wealthiest towns.  The Anti-Discrimination Center filed a lawsuit against the county in 2009 essentially holding them accountable to the federal money they received and have been watching closely to see if the 750 housing units that were proposed would encourage black and Latino working class residents to cross the intentional 'color line' the county has worked to create over the years. 

From the ADC website:

"The entry of this Consent Decree was supposed to mark the moment -- for Westchester and for the country -- when serious steps would begin to be taken to overcome the residential segregation that continues to plague our society," said Robert Stroup, ADC's co-counsel and a partner at the law firm of Levy & Ratner. "Instead, we have seen almost two years of Westchester continuing the same attitudes and polices that landed it in trouble in the first place."

Daniel Denvir of Salon visited the supposed affordable housing units and notes that they are mainly just on the outside of the communities they are meant to integrate:

Forty-six of the units are located in the exclusive village of Larchmont. According to Andrew Beveridge, a Queens College and CUNY Graduate Center professor of sociology and an expert witness for the ADC, the site currently has a low black and Latino population only because it has almost no population: It is on a census block with just seven residents. The site is also 500 feet from the city line of New Rochelle, a working-class city with large black and Latino populations.

The development is slated to go up behind a strip mall, pinned against railroad tracks and I-95. The heart of Larchmont, where the suburban dream of spacious single-family homes on ample green lawns thrives, is up a hill and around the bend, where the highway recedes and an upscale commercial strip emerges, including one store that bills itself as an "eco-forward lifestyle boutique."

Activists from the ADC have filed a "Motion to Enforce," (pdf link) and is calling on the Obama administration to hold the county's feet to the fire to actually take the steps to end generations of desegregation and make an example of Westchester county to similar counties across the country. 


AlterNet / By Rae Gomes

Posted at July 14, 2011, 7:05am

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