‘White flight’ sparks white residential rise in New York

(CNN) — In the early 1990s, Donald Trump owned one of the last blue-collar apartment complexes in New York City, Riverside Drive in Trump World Tower.

The latest census and demographer analysis show that more than 90% of the market in Riverside Drive — along with nearly 40 other neighborhoods in New York and Connecticut — has become white.

The results are startling, given that New York’s black population is projected to continue shrinking, reaching under 1 million in 2060. Latinos, meanwhile, are expected to continue growing.

Researchers say one cause is the white flight that hit America in the early 1990s, when the median rent in New York City jumped 42%, to more than $1,600 a month.

Riverside Drive, just steps from the city’s Washington Square Park, was once a mixed-race neighborhood. Vacant storefronts in the area — including a nail salon — attest to the area’s recent decline.

Another common factor contributing to the white exodus from neighborhoods is the white flight that has affected black communities over the past two decades.

White people move away from their neighborhoods when there is rampant crime, said Dartmouth College demographer Richard Weitz. Whites view crime rates as an indicator of the quality of neighborhoods, and see black neighborhoods as more crime-ridden.

“Once they make that judgment, they leave,” Weitz said.

After an 11% increase in 1990, the New York City robbery rate grew again by 30% by 2000, according to the city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. White population in that time period grew from 39.7% to 42.7%, while black population fell from 51.5% to 42.1%.

The black exodus from New York City neighborhoods started slowly in the 1980s and accelerated when the New York housing market peaked in 1995. Although there has been a slight drop in white population over the past five years, it still stands at around 32%.

White flight from black neighborhoods was much more drastic. Between 1980 and 1990, the black population in cities like Haverstraw, Putnam, Dutchess and Rockland counties shrank by approximately one-third.

With few opportunities to open a business in those communities, or move to white-dominated areas, many black residents lost their ability to leave, said Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University.

“Their only option is to move to suburbia,” Abramowitz said.

In recent years, New York City has been trying to draw minorities back to predominantly white neighborhoods. In the Bronx, officials have widened sidewalks to encourage people to walk. In Manhattan’s Upper West Side and parts of Williamsburg, new apartment buildings offer subsidies to low-income residents who choose to live in their own building.

Across the city, more than 300 new affordable housing developments are planned for the next several years.

But even these programs haven’t helped to close the city’s growing racial wealth gap, which is projected to cost the city’s residents $78 billion over the next decade, according to a 2012 study by NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.

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