Menu JTA Search

State Official Urged to Investigate Charges of Block-busting

John Lomenzo, New York Secretary of State, has been asked by the Association of Jewish Anti-Poverty Workers to investigate what it charges are moves by the New York City Welfare Department to allegedly pave the way for block-busting in Jewish neighborhoods. Elly Rosen, Association executive director, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today, that he wrote to Lomenzo last Friday urging him to create legislation prohibiting “insensitive city officials from destroying our neighborhoods.” The AJAPW charged on Aug. 18 that the Welfare Department has leased homes in the heart of Jewish sections “and dumped multiple fatherless families into these houses,” thereby “causing panic in the community and opening a wedge for the onerous block-busters.” The group made the same charge on Friday when it met with Jules Sugarman, head of the Human Resources Administration and Commissioner of Social Services. Rosen told the JTA that Sugarman asserted, during the meeting that he planned to continue this practice and that the middle class communities would be expected to help the city with its welfare burdens. According to Rosen, Sugarman indicated that he had no other alternative: these families needed homes and the city would have to place them wherever it could find available housing. Sugarman could not be reached today for comment.

Rosen stated that the families being “dumped” in these “stable middle class neighborhoods,” were so destructive that even the City Housing Authority refused to rent them apartments in the city’s housing projects. According to him, these families are now being placed in Laurelton and Rockaway in Queens, and East Flatbush in Brooklyn. These are the same areas being plagued by block-busters and recently declared “non-solicitation” areas by Lomenzo, Rosen asserted. He also noted that Mrs. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city Human Rights Commissioner, has ordered a probe into the block-busting practices in those areas. “What good are those probes when the city itself is the biggest block-buster?” Rosen asked. Block-busting is a practice of unscrupulous realtors who sell a home on a white block to a Black family and then offer to buy homes from the other white families on the block at deflated prices caused by the panic the realtors seek to create. As white owners flee, the realtors sell the homes to Black families at inflated prices.

The AJAPW stated that this practice was being encouraged by welfare officials, and that homes in such upper middle class areas as Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Rego Park and in Queens, and Boro Park in Brooklyn would soon be leased at highest prices and made available to welfare clients. Rosen said this would finally achieve “what the most vicious block-busters could not: destroy the Jewish neighborhoods and accelerate the abandonment of the city by its middle class residents.” In his letter to Lomenzo, Rosen stated that Blacks and whites are opposed to indiscriminate placing of families with severe social and economic problems in areas in which they could not relate. Moreover, Rosen added, these families were never given supportive services by the Welfare Department and consequently were left without any contacts, causing them and their children further anguish. “Unless this terrible practice is stopped.” Rosen stated, “block-busters will have an ongoing holiday in New York City.” The AJAPW indicated that despite Sugarman’s appeal for support in middle class areas, he has not attempted to place welfare families in Bensonhurst, Rosedale and other non-Jewish white neighborhoods. “Once again, the passive Jew is made a patsy of this city’s administration,” Rosen declared.

NEXT STORY