The Color of Law

The Color of Law

A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Richard Rothstein

Metropolitan Life finally agreed to lease “some” apartments in Stuyvesant Town to “qualified Negro tenants.” But by then, the development was filled. New York City’s rent control laws, by which existing tenants pay significantly less than market-rate rents, helped to ensure that turnover would be slow. Rapidly rising rents in apartments that had been vacated made the development increasingly unaffordable to middle-income families. These conditions combined to make the initial segregation of Stuyvesant Town nearly permanent. By the 2010 census, only 4 percent of Stuyvesant Town residents were African American, in a New York metropolitan area that was 15 percent African American. As in so many other instances, the low-income neighborhood that the city razed to make way for Stuyvesant Town had been integrated and stable. About 40 percent of those evicted were African American or Puerto Rican, and many of them had no alternative but to move to racially isolated communities elsewhere in the city and beyond. Although New York ceased to allow future discrimination in publicly subsidized projects, it made no effort to remediate the segregation it had created.

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