Yonkers Council Backs Accord In Housing-Desegregation Case
The Yonkers (N.Y.) City Council last week approved an agreement to address housing segregation that had been linked, in a landmark federal court case, to segregation in the city's schools.
The council voted 4 to 3 to approve a pact negotiated with the U.S. Justice Department and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, both plaintiffs in the city's 12-year-old desegregation case.
The agreement still must be approved by Judge Leonard B. Sand of Federal District Court in Manhattan.
But Mayor Terence M. Zaleski, who was elected on a pledge to comply with court orders and end the case, last week expressed confidence that the court would approve the plan, which he said marks "the start of a new era in Yonkers'' and the beginning of the city's control over how segregation there is remedied.
The agreement calls for the city to make 709 units of affordable rental housing available in mostly-white sections of Yonkers within four years, primarily by leasing existing property. If sufficient existing property cannot be found, the city must build new apartments.
The case stems from a suit brought by the Justice Department asserting that housing and school authorities in Yonkers had, through the placement of public housing and public schools, worked together to ensure that certain neighborhoods and schools were mostly white or black.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1988 declined to hear two separate appeals of the case and was seen as giving courts and school districts permission to explore the relationship between housing and school integration.
In 1986, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit had ordered the school district to carry out various desegregation remedies, and it complied. But the city complied only with a court order that it build 200 units of subsidized housing for low-income families in mostly-white sections of town, and failed to heed an order to build 800 units of housing for moderate-income families in those areas.
Mayor Zaleski earlier this month had proposed providing 625 units of
housing over six years, but the plan was revised after N.A.A.C.P.
officials complained that it was inadequate.