Analysis of Public Housing in Yonkers, New York
As mentioned previously, the local government determined the location for the public housing units. Yonkers’ officials decided to place Mulford Gardens on the southwest side because of the close proximity to industry. In other words, public housing residents lived near the low income jobs and improved the growth of businesses. These conditions made public housing ideal to immigrant workers that “manned those factories and left their imprints.” However, these immigrants had the potential for social mobility and later moved to the east side of the Saw Mill Parkway. Minorities, in contrast, did not have much of a choice. Either “they were not wanted… [or] they could not afford to” leave the southwest region of Yonkers. Thus, minorities remained “on the west side, making their homes in places that earlier generations of newcomers had eagerly left.” In addition, the only location where Yonkers did not resist public housing was in the southwest because locals already associated the area with the working class. The natural barriers, such as the terrain, and artificial barriers, such as the Saw Mill Parkway, isolated the destitute areas of Yonkers from the remainder of the city. This separation reaffirmed that Yonkers did not want public housing or minorities within close proximity. The proposal of a public housing unit in any other area resulted in protests and petitions with “politicians, acting on behalf of its very vocal east side voters.” For this reason, Yonkers created the next public housing units, Cottage Place Gardens, Schlobohm, and Calcagno, within blocks from each other. Mulford Gardens set precedence for the remainder of the units in Yonkers. Furthermore, Yonkers has a long history of segregation in housing. After to the creation of the National Housing Act of 1949:
This showed issues with public housing and minorities ran deep in the history of Yonkers.
Yonkers also placed public housing units in a place that was not desirable to developers. The properties in southwest Yonkers are located on steep hills that isolate this region from the remainder of the city. For example, Schlobohm acquired the nickname “the hole” by residents because of its location at the bottom of the steep hill. This also reinforced ideas of the upper classes looking down on the people that live in Schlobohm or other units. Yonkers reaffirmed these natural barriers with the creation of the Saw Mill Parkway. This made the division between the east and west apparent.
Economics also influenced the construction of public housing units. According to the MHACY, or the Municipal Housing Authority of the City of Yonkers:
In other words, Yonkers had restrictions on the location of the public housing developments. The first restriction, inadequate income, meant Yonkers did not have enough money to use for public housing. This along with lack of available land and construction cost caused Yonkers to design public housing units as high-rises. In addition, zoning limited the distribution of public housing in Yonkers. Yonkers zoned:
As a result, Yonkers pushed the public housing developments into the southwestern corner.
However, the most significant reason Yonkers placed public housing units in the southwestern region was segregation. This reason remained the most prominent because it led to the United States v. the city of Yonkers lawsuit in 1985. The presiding Judge, named Judge Sand, determined “It is highly unlikely…that a pattern of subsidized housing, which so perfectly preserved the white character of East Yonkers came about for reasons unrelated to race.” Before the 1970s, public housing developments housed different races, not just minorities. After the 1970s, the majority of the white residences moved to the east side of Yonkers. This coincides with the time that Yonkers determined it would no longer build public housing units for families. Yonkers had issues with public housing units on the east side because it welcomed minorities and devalued the property. The community claimed to disapprove of public housing units of the east side because of the economic standings of the future tenants, not race. Yet, the income of whites, where they proposed to build the new developments, did not differ greatly from the income of blacks in Yonkers. This confirmed Judge Sands’ findings that:
Therefore, the locations of the public housing units in Yonkers caused a racial identity to emerge in the west of the Salt Mill Parkway and encouraged future developments to rise in the same one square mile.
 Lisa Belkin Show Me A Hero (1999).
 Lisa Belkin.
 Lisa Belkin.
 Lisa Belkin.
 "837 F. 2d 1181 –United ates v. Yonkers Board of Education." http://openjurist.org/837/f2d/1181/united-states-v-yonkers-board-of-education.
 Bill Kavanagh, "Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story" (2007).
“Strategic Plan Narrative Responses: Five Year Strategy,” http://www.yonkerny.gov/modules.
 “Strategic Plan Narrative Responses: Five Year Strategy."
 Lisa Belkin.
 "837 F. 2d 1181 –United ates v. Yonkers Board of Education."