environmental impact study, racial impact study, Zoning & Racialized Displacement in NYC, rezoning, Jumaane Williams, the federal Fair Housing Act
Modular Housing developments in East New York Photo: The Jewish Voice

Fair housing advocates and some elected officials at a rally on Wednesday called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to get behind legislation that would mandate the city council conduct a racial impact environmental study on current zoning and land use laws in certain New York City neighborhoods, such as Far Rockaway and East New, where large populations of blacks and Latinos currently are being displaced behind they hyper real estate development in their neighborhoods, reported Curbed.

Under the bill, introduced by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, draft and final statements crafted by the City Planning Commission must include an analysis on the potential, direct and indirect racial and ethnic residential impacts of the proposed action and whether the action falls within the parameters set forth in the federal Fair Housing Act.

The call for the mandate follows the release of a new report, “Zoning & Racialized Displacement in NYC” report, that reveals a number of racial and environmental inequalities spurred by city-led rezonings. The report was compiled by Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFHH), using U.S. Census data to analyze two major Bloomberg-era rezonings.

The findings revealed that the 2003 Park Slope and 2005 Williamsburg rezonings displaced thousands of black and Latino residents as the neighborhoods’ populations grew.

and points to the dire need for the de Blasio administration to study the racial impacts of land use actions poised to reshape New York City neighborhoods.

“Colorblind policies that pretend this is not a race issue have gotten us where we are today and it’s well past time not just to stop this, but to reverse it,” said Alex Fennell, CUFFH’s network director, during the rally on the steps of City Hall.

“Rezonings are one of the primary drivers of gentrification, which leads to displacement,” said Williams. “Rezonings are so sure to pass and so sure to be beneficial to developers that even the announcement of a [review process] leads to rampant speculation that coincides with a rise of harassment and displacement.”

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