The area including the hasidic village of 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.
The Journal News did an analysis of Section 8 Housing voucher use in Rockland County. Not surprisingly, it found that hasidic communities have disproportionately high rates of Section 8 housing:
…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.
…Almost 70 percent of Kaser residents live below the poverty line, and New Square is close behind at 58 percent.
Both also have among the largest families in the nation, with 12 to 15 children per family not uncommon.
“If you have 10 kids, you’ve got to be a CEO to pay for everything yourself,” said Rabbi Avrohom Rimler, outreach coordinator at New City Chabad Lubavitch.
“In the religious community, a child is not balanced on a scale with money on the other side. We do not have family planning. God is our family planner,” he said.
Other facets of the Hasidic lifestyle contribute to poverty, leaders say. College degrees are rare, and traditional sources of income like diamonds, retail and real estate have dried up in the new economy.
“It’s an ideology and a lifestyle that leads to poverty. Government benefits is the only way they can make it work,” said Shulem Deen, a Brooklyn writer who left New Square after 10 years. “The Hasidic communities do not provide their members with a very effective means for economic self-sufficiency. It’s a very simple fact.”
Nevertheless, the community is so popular that men are asked to leave unless they marry from within its members, and land is being annexed at the north end…for more housing.
A new upstate community also has been discussed…
Oddly, in it glowing rendition of life in New Square, the Journal News forgot to mention the harassment of and attacks against New Square dissidents, most notoriously the arson and attempted murder two years ago of Aron Rottenberg and his family.
But I suppose it's difficult for the editors and reporters of the Journal News to remember the only local news story of national import they have covered in the past decade. And after all, New Square is a "popular" place to live.
So popular, in fact, that the Journal News reports that "men are asked to leave unless they marry from within its members."
"Asked" as in threatened? As in facing firebombs or simple harassment and ostracism?
Asking people to move out of your town because they don't go to your church or follow the edicts of a particular religious leader is illegal. But the Journal News allows this to go unmentioned, as well.
A community has just seen increasing harassment and ostracism culminate in a firebombing that was meant to kill an entire dissident family.
The Journal News – which failed to report most of that harassment and ostracism until after the firebombing took place – now reports that men from New Square who chose to marry women who don't live in New Square are being asked to leave the village and live elsewhere. But it does so without mentioning the firebombing and related crimes.