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Section 8 Homes for Hasidic Jews: Social housing controversy hits NYC

© Darren Ornitz

NYC housing is a contradiction: the brutally competitive market has been aggravated by gentrification while also being home to the largest Section 8 voucher program in the country. With 123,000 vouchers for low-income housing in a city of over 8 million people, securing low income housing can be difficult, the New York Daily News reported.

But there is nowhere that symbolized that dichotomy more than South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the highest concentration of Section 8 residents, where condos go for $800 per square foot. That same neighborhood is home to 30 percent of the Section 8 housing vouchers. This was accomplished when the tight-knit, well-organized Hasidic community did what they do best: stick together.

The Hasidic community is one of the most poverty-stricken Jewish communities in New York. A 2011 report from the Jewish Community of New York found that 28 percent of poor Jewish households are Hasidic, with 55 percent of all Jewish households in Williamsburg being defined as poor.

Rabbi David Niederman, an influential local community leader for the United Jewish Federation, told the Daily News, “We have people keeping the price lower, even a person living on Section 8 can pay the monthly rentals.”

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The Hasidic population is also one of the fastest-growing ones in NYC, with some of the highest birthrates. It is not uncommon for ultra-Orthodox Jewish couples to wed while teenagers and have large families.

Despite the city’s limited Section 8 availability, whenever a spot opens up, the United Jewish Federation makes sure to inform and assist its community in securing housing. The Daily Mail found that in 2000, there were 1,394 in the nine Yiddish-speaking tracts of Williamsburg. By 2014, there were 12 Yiddish tracts that had over 3,000 vouchers.

Meanwhile, during the late 1990s Hasidic real estate developers began converting industrial properties, such as warehouses, into housing in Williamsburg, as well as Bedford-Stuyvesant. The Board of Standards and Appeals granted permission to rezone these buildings into livable homes.

Legal Services NYC attempted to stop the rezoning, citing anti-discrimination laws. They claimed that the apartments were only advertised in Yiddish-language newspapers, despite them being in traditionally black and Latino neighborhoods.

Raun Rasmussen, of Legal Services NYC, said: “We thought it was a violation of the Fair Housing Act to be marketing and ultimately renting to exclusively Hasidic families.”

Meanwhile, the demand for housing in Williamsburg has exploded beyond the Hasidic community. Some have taken advantage of the desirable location by killing two birds with one stone. The Daily News reported Simon Dushinsky, a Hasidic developer, is in the process of building 800 luxury apartments off of North Brooklyn’s Broadway. At the same time, he is planning to develop a complex with traditional window cages for children and kosher kitchens.

He has not specified whether or not either building will accept Section 8.

“If you don’t take Section 8 within the Hasidic world, your potential tenant pool is very small,” Shulem Deen told the Daily News.

Section 8 residents pay an average of $400 a month, the Daily Mail reported. But Hasidic residents may be paying more than that off the books. One interviewee, identified only as Alex, told the Daily News: “[Hasidic newlyweds] will do anything, including paying extra money above Section 8. So the landlords are asking it only because the tenants will pay it. The tenants will only pay it because they have no other option.”

There have been numerous allegations of Section 8 fraud in the Hasidic community. Rabbi Leib Glanz and his brother were convicted in 2012 of defrauding the program by $220,000 over 15 years. Aron Stark was accused of trying to push residents out of a rent-stabilized building in Bushwick that he was developing, while claiming he qualified for Section 8 by not declaring his stake in four Brooklyn properties.

Despite the alleged wrongdoing, some see a community rallying around its own during a difficult time.

“This is a story of a community that’s trying to exist in the city at a time when the city has become, and particularly the borough in which they live, extremely expensive,” Samuel Heilman, a Queens College professor, told the Daily News.

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Comment by Bombahdrop on May 26, 2016 at 10:43pm
No wonder section 8 Been on a freeze forever now. They giving it to a cetain people. Not fair at all..
Comment by El-Bull on May 26, 2016 at 10:26pm

Malcolm X  they are subsidized by their government who receives money from USA tax payers---if they have no money it's because they ship it back to Israel---don't let them fool you, they are well taken care of and are bleeding the American tax payers..all rich people don't look like rich people in the sense of the word, many of them live below their means  to give the illusion of not having wealth

Comment by Malcolm X on May 26, 2016 at 7:20pm
We need to read. There are a lot of dirt poor jews. Guys like Meyer lansky, Benny Segal and Dutch shut (Flagenhiemer) came from the gutter of the bronx brooklyn and Lowe east side and had no problem killing to get money on the streets. The's the guts that did the killings fir money for the itslians. Go up to orange County they got the worst poverty rates in new York state. Stop thinking all jews got money
Comment by Incognito on May 26, 2016 at 2:31pm

Hasids launder most of their monies through synagogues and sects. The synagogues are used particularly to sit on under-performing assets so that any R/E taxes are abated or avoided.  Assets rezoned or eyed for development are sold or transferred to through a maze of complex transactions to Orthodox run Asset management firms.  Many of these firms are funded off-shore by Jews in Israel, South America and Europe. There the profits are thereby "washed", and illicit gains are transferred out of the country into off-shore investments to hide the slush-fund.
The money of overseas investors, who's true intent was to invest in other property or businesses, is covertly invested in other investments. These investments appear to be funds of the local Hasids, but their PROFITS are now nicely parked overseas.  

Invariably the local Hasids would show something on their tax returns, but it'll be all losses. Without having any income or property, they're considered destitute, and qualify for Welfare assistance.  Through a web of complex, illicit financial manipulation they've PRIVATIZED their gains, and socialize their losses - i.e. they're keeping all their winnings, and having New Yorkers pay for their losses.

By sticking always sticking together, no one will never know the level or extent of their deceit - no doubt it's several billions...

 - InCogNiTo 

Comment by conscious1 on May 26, 2016 at 12:45pm

There is power in numbers.  As @Ab Gai stated, they stick together and work the system on behalf of each other.  If only black people can truly understand that concept.  Their unity allows them the opportunity to control and manipulate the laws, the laws do not control them.

Besides, the laws are created to protect the establishment not the people.  Now the question is: who is the establishment?  Answer: The beneficiaries of the system who the laws are established to protect........hmmmm?

Comment by Sandra J. Smith on May 24, 2016 at 9:57am

But they aren't poor, they're liars & crooks - They hide their assets with family members, many living outside of USA

Comment by Image96 on May 23, 2016 at 6:00pm
Have to total agree with Ab Gai and others are missing the point. "They stick together and they take care of their own"! We as a people would be so powerful if we looked out for each other as the Jews do.
Comment by Jerome S [ Barz ] on May 23, 2016 at 12:47am
As I have noticed, the people (of color ) don't seem to go that way. More leaders than followers. Trash follow trash, etc. Can't do it my way, I'll try back later.
Comment by Ab Gai on May 23, 2016 at 12:33am
I think y'all missing a major point here. They were able to accomplish this by "sticking together and buying property". Why can't black Americans do this? So much can be accomplished by sticking together.
Comment by Sandra J. Smith on May 22, 2016 at 9:53am

They do all this without any oversight but when they show the face of "welfare" be it benefits like sec 8, food stamps, medicaid they always show the faces of majority black & hispanics.    Hasidic women just sit home and have babies & get the most day care vouchers even though they don't work.   

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