Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Turf battles follow Haredi population surge in NY
The changes in the neighborhood are among the consequences of the explosive growth of the Orthodox Jewish population in America’s most Jewish city. That growth is altering not just the composition of America’s largest Jewish community, but city neighborhoods, too.
As a result, the vast majority of Jews in Williamsburg — 77 percent, according to the UJA-Federation survey — are renters, the highest rate in the city. By contrast, only 51 percent of Jews living in the more affluent area known as Brownstone Brooklyn — an area that encompasses downtown Brooklyn and the much sought-after Park Slope and Carroll Gardens neighborhoods — are tenants.
The tough real estate market has enticed many Haredim to leave the city for Jewish towns farther upstate, such as Kiryas Joel, community members say. Kiryas Joel now has more than 20,000 residents, according to the 2010 census, up from 13,000 in 2000.
For those who stay, real estate developers have been busy building in areas surrounding established Haredi cores, pushing into adjacent neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill. The Haredi migration can be tracked by the new construction, which often has specifically Orthodox amenities, such as staggered balconies that allow residents to build sukkahs during the fall harvest holiday with unobstructed views of the sky.
Whatever the courts decide on the Broadway Triangle development, it will not solve the Haredi community’s housing problems. “Even if we build these houses,” Niederman said, “it would be just a drop in the sea.”