5000 Hasidic Jews Protest Unfair Racial Balance in Housing Project

More than 5000 Hasidic Jews from the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn demonstrated outside City Hall for two hours yesterday to protest what they claimed was an unfair racial balance in a new low to middle income housing project.

The Roberto Clemente Plaza, a five-building development containing 432 apartments, has been earmarked by officials for 75 percent occupancy by Blacks and Puerto Ricans and 25 percent white. The high-rise is located in the center of the Hasidic neighborhood where, the protesters pointed out, the population is 70 percent Hasidic and 30 percent Black and Hispanic. They insist that the project reflect the ethnic mix of its immediate surroundings.

According to Rabbi Efroim Stein, “A balance of 75 percent minorities and 25 percent white in this project will destroy the Hasidic community and force us to move out of Williamsburg. Such an upheaval would be catastrophic to a people who have already suffered so much,” he said.

Father Bryan Karvelis, board chairman of the Roberto Clemente Plata, has suggested a 50-50 balance between minorities and whites, reflecting the people who were displaced from their original homes when the project was built. “We are now trying to achieve a proper balance. It is our hope that this matter can be settled amicably.” Karvelis said. The dispute is currently before the U.S. Federal District Court for the Southern District.

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