NEW YORK (Feb. 3)
The American Jewish Committee charged here today that Jews are excluded by overt or covert means from renting or owning dwellings in at least 15 separate residential areas in the nation’s capital. All these sections in Washington, D. C., are in the “desirable North West quadrant, within a three to five-mile radius of the White House.”
The charges were made by Irving M. Engel, the Committee’s president, in testimony before the United States Commission on Civil Rights which held two days of hearings here on bousing discrimination.
He stressed concern that “high government office-holders of both political parties, knowingly or unwittingly continue to inhabit these exclusionary areas, and by their silence appear to condone such practices.”
Mr. Engel noted that “as office-holders in our government, they are trustees of an important and precious tradition, namely, that equality of opportunity should exist in all departments of American life, regardless of religion.
“It is, we think, vital that a principle so hard won should also be protected by officials of our government. Living in a community which is the very seat of our government constitutes an action that should be exemplary to the rest of the nation; also, Washington, being our national capital, is the mirror of our nation exposed to world public view.”
LISTS DEVICES USED TO EXCLUDE JEWS
Mr. Engel said that three major devices were used to carry out the exclusionary policies; Compliance with ancient restrictive covenants; “gentlemen’s agreements” against the acquisition of homes by Jews, and a variety of “devious methods” to avoid exhibiting available dwellings to prospective Jewish purchasers in areas from which Jews have been excluded. He deplored the “mischievous meddling of real estate brokers in the District of Columbia and its environs in perpetuating a pattern of residential discrimination against American Jews.”
Dealing with the national scene, Mr. Engel said that “in almost every major American city or its suburbs, neighborhoods exist in which restrictive devices are used to prevent minority groups from burning homes or renting apartments., He stated that this discrimination “falls most heavily on the people who are not white.”