NYC residents qualify for Section 8 Housing and other rental subsidies. They ask the state for a listing of communities where such housing is available. One of those communities turns out to be Kiryas Joel, the Satmar village. They go to Kiryas Joel to see the properties, but most of the signs are in Yiddish and they can't understand them. They make many phone calls to get information, and get the runaround each time, until they finally get the number of a company in Queens that has the information. They call and are told the units will be given out by lottery, but the lottery is rigged – they are told to put their last names on the outside of the lottery envelopes. This makes it easy for Kiryas Joel to award the housing to Satmar members and exclude everyone else – especially non-Jews.
In the Times Herald Record, Reuben Estrada notes this and asks some very important questions:
…Are not all U.S. citizens and state residents eligible for subsidized housing able to be considered and given such consideration, even in Kiryas Joel? I find it appalling that housing segregation is still endorsed by our government leadership when groups solicit support for housing finance from government. It seems that our leaders are extending a blind eye or do not really care for the affordable housing of those not affiliated with the village or its religious community.…
Why is New York state using tax money on housing that practices discrimination?…Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability.
The state seeks housing and equal housing opportunity by requiring those awarded capital program funding and tax credits to comply with state and federal civil rights laws. These statutes prohibit discrimination. Anyone wanting to live in Kiryas Joel who qualifies according to rules for eligibility of the state for subsidy should be able to live there.
NYC and, to a slightly lesser degree, NY State are run like Third World countries. Graft, block voting and fraud are the norm, not the exception. Elected officials like Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes and former NY Governor George Pataki are corrupted by groups like Satmar that vote in large blocks as directed by religious leaders. This can be seen in everything from the handling of cases of rabbi sexual predators to the state's laughable circumcision "deal" with Satmar.
One day this rabbinic corruption will surely cause an outburst of antisemitism. Sadly, if history is any guide, that outburst will not be focused on those corrupt rabbinic leaders and their followers – it will instead be directed at all of us.
Even if that were not the case, we need to speak out against this corruption of democracy, this corrosion of what so many gave their lives to protect.
Stealing from the government is wrong, whether that theft takes the form of welfare fraud, school lunch program fraud, grant fraud, special education fraud, or Section 8 Housing fraud.
The rabbis that sanction this theft are stealing not from some amorphous entity called the government – they are stealing from each and every one of us who are not members of their group. And, as they do that, they spit on everything good this country stands for.
Perhaps together we can find a way to communicate that to them.