NYC 2015: Black Councilwoman Suggests ‘Benefit’ To Ethnically Segregated Housing

Font Size:

New York City’s 334 public housing developments’ bland, dilapidated-before-they-were-even-built housing projects have blighted the urban landscape for decades.

Now, though, a Big Apple councilwoman has added further insult by bizarrely endorsing the segregation of residents living in two housing projects in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood by ethnic groups.

The Daily Caller is not making this up.

The councilwoman is Democrat Laurie Cumbo, the New York Post reports.

Cumbo, who is black, is concerned that “blocs” of Asians have been moving into the Fort Greene housing projects.

“How is it that one specific ethnic group has had the opportunity to move into a development in large numbers?” she asked, according to the Post.

“There could be some benefit to housing people by culture,” Cumbo later told the Post when asked to clarify her comments. “I think it needs to be discussed.”

The councilwoman’s bizarrely racial comments were met with quick pushback locally.

“She certainly could’ve chosen her words a bit more carefully,” Chinese-American councilwoman Margaret Chin told the newspaper.

Chin noted that “many” Asian-American families “have applied to live in public housing.”

Cumbo later issued an apology, defending her remarks by saying that she merely wanted to know if the New York City Housing Authority “uses a cultural preference priority component” to select new tenants.

Housing authority spokeswoman Shola Olatoye noted that there is no such component.

Cumbo represents New York City’s 35th district, which includes Fort Greene, Prospect Heights and a couple other Brooklyn neighborhoods.

She is a Brooklyn native. Her undergraduate alma mater is Spelman College, an all-female, historically black school in Atlanta. She also has a Master’s degree in visual arts administration from New York University.

The housing projects in Fort Greene include the Walt Whitman houses, which were once the stomping ground of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a rapper and a founding member of Wu-Tang Clan, notes Complex.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard died in 2004 of a drug overdose involving cocaine and the prescription pain drug tramadol.

Follow Eric on TwitterLike Eric on Facebook. Send education-related story tips to