Sunday, March 03, 2013

Hasidic villages have top voucher use 

New Square is such a popular place to live, despite being one of the poorest places in the nation, that it’s clearing and annexing more land for housing.

Loretta Neal, a retiree who raised a family in a neat brick ranch house just north of the village, always considered it a good neighbor. But as New Square’s dense multi-family housing gets closer to her front yard, she wonders whether the government subsidies supporting it are really fair.

“It’s an effective use of the system,” she said. “But it’s not for the whole community. That’s the part I disagree with, that they say it’s in the public interest, but it’s only for part of the community.”

A Journal News analysis shows that the area including New Square has by far the highest proportion of Section 8 units in the region, nearly half of all its housing units. The top rate in Westchester is only half that high, in an impoverished Yonkers neighborhood east of Nepperhan Avenue.

Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Monsey and Kaser range from 10 percent to 26 percent Section 8, while rates in other poor Rockland areas are a fraction of that: 6 percent to 9 percent in Spring Valley, West Haverstraw and Haverstraw. Rockland has 22 neighborhoods with two or fewer units of Section 8, and 10 with none at all.

Mendel Hoffman, an advocate for the Orthodox Jewish community, said the Hasidic enclaves of New Square and Kaser have a better supply of affordable housing suitable for Section 8.

“Other places don’t want Section 8. In those villages they don’t mind having Section 8 for people in the neighborhood,” Hoffman said.

Kaser has far fewer vouchers, 92 compared to New Square’s 670 Section 8 vouchers, despite a similar abundance of multi-family housing along Route 306.

Leaders say that’s because it was incorporated just after the 1990 census, making it harder to establish poverty statistics in its early years.

Nearby Spring Valley, larger and more diverse, hasn’t been able to use as many Section 8 vouchers as New Square, even though it has a larger allocation.


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