Jews File Suit Against Injunction Barring Them from East Side Low Income Housing Project

Three Orthodox Jews who hold leases with the City Housing Authority for apartments in the Seward Park Extension Urban Renewal Area on Manhattan’s lower East Side filed suit in federal court here today against a federal preliminary injunction barring the Housing Authority from transferring such Jewish tenants from other city apartments to the Seward Park project.

The three Jews are being represented by Marcel Weber of the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA). On May 24, Federal Judge Marvin E. Frankel issued a 26-page opinion holding that the city had violated the constitutional rights of Blacks and Puerto Ricans by giving preference to Jews seeking to move into apartments in the federally-assisted Seward Park project. Judge Frankel also held that the city was violating its own regulations by failing to give first priority to former residents of the renewal area. On Friday he signed a preliminary injunction to implement his decision.

A COLPA spokesman said the Housing Authority had given the leases to a number of Jews with “firm ties” to the East Side who lacked funds to relocate privately and who because of various urban renewal programs and demographic changes were finding it a hardship to survive on the lower East Side. The spokesman said affidavits filed by the three Jews in Southern District Court in Manhattan indicated they feared to venture out of their apartments because of “systematic harassment” stemming from their being “singled out” for abuse by local hoodlums because of their garb and “obvious appearance” as Jews.

Another group of would-be tenants with disputed leases have intervened in the case and are being represented by the Legal Aid Society. The COLPA spokesman said COLPA had received permission from the Housing Authority and the plaintiffs to seek to intervene as attorney and that Weber will stress the religious claims of the affected Jews. He said that the lawsuit filed today is returnable next Thursday when the COLPA motion to intervene will be considered. A favorable ruling is a formality, he said.

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