Friday, March 25, 2011

Hispanics, Hasidics increase 

A marked increase in the number of Hispanic and Hasidic residents fueled population surges in several Lower Hudson Valley villages, according to Census 2010 figures released Thursday.

Three suburban communities emerged with a majority or Hispanic residents: Port Chester, now 59 percent Latino; Brewster, 56 percent; and Sleepy Hollow, 51 percent.

"I think that for a long time now, it's always been assumed that we were the majority (in Port Chester)," said Blanca Lopez, who became the first Hispanic resident elected to office in Port Chester when she was voted on to the school board two years ago. "But now this really confirms it."

But the fastest growth occurred in Ramapo, where the Hasidic Jewish communities of New Square and Kaser grew by 50 and 42 percent, respectively. Surprising growth was also seen in Montebello, which grew 23 percent.

Rockland County's Haverstraw saw its existing Hispanic majority rise further, to 67 percent of residents in 2010, from 59 percent in 2000.

The 17 percent overall gain in Haverstraw's population is likely due in part to new housing developments along its Hudson River waterfront.

Edna Rivera, a lifelong Haverstraw resident and the director of Housing Opportunities for Growth and Revitalization, described the village as a community that resisted being "malled" by big-box stores.

"You've got a sense of community, you've got beautiful geography and then you've got affordability," Rivera said.

In Mount Kisco, a village known to have a fairly prominent Hispanic population, the rise in numbers didn't come as a surprise.

"I know the residents and the makeup of the community," village Mayor Michael Cindrich said Thursday. "This reflects what we already know and are living with."

"The issue in all government is that the culture is different and the language is not shared," Cindrich said. "There could be overcrowding issues in the schools and there could be a strain on some services. But it is what it is. Those are the numbers and it is good to have them to help us plan."


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