Show Me A Hero: A Virtual Viewing And Panel Discussion

On April 25th, 2022 the Connecticut Fair Housing Center hosted a virtual viewing of ‘Show Me A Hero’ followed by a panel discussion.

Show Me a Hero is a dramatized HBO mini-series based on the United States v. City of Yonkers court case that follows the conflict over segregation in affordable housing in the city of Yonkers in the late 1980’s. The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division brought this case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the City of Yonkers, New York, alleging that the city had intentionally segregated its schools by deliberately concentrating public housing in Southwest Yonkers. The city of Yonkers was then ordered by Judge Leonard B. Sand to remedy the housing portion of its violations by adopting a plan for building up to 1,000 units of low- and moderate-income housing in predominantly white neighborhoods. The responses of the residents of those predominantly white neighborhoods were vehement.

This treatment is not new, and unfortunately it continues today. We see racism and fear of families with children and of people with disabilities overwhelm the conversations about affordable housing development. From Yonkers, NY to Connecticut and even across the country, the very mention of ‘affordable housing’ is enough to illicit a harsh response from some.

NIMBY or ‘Not in my backyard’ describes the phenomenon in which residents of a neighborhood designate a new development (e.g. shelter, affordable housing, group home) or change in occupancy of an existing development as inappropriate or unwanted for their local area. Ideas such as ‘affordable housing brings down property values’ and ‘you can’t take people from one way of life and expect them to adapt to another’ permeate many of the discussions regarding affordable housing construction. These ideas are dangerous and have a negative effect on the type of housing people have access to.

The mission of the CT Fair Housing Center is to ensure that all people in the state of Connecticut have equal access to housing, free from discrimination. In our work, we have come to realize that individuals that use housing choice vouchers are among some of the highest discriminated against.

The purpose of this presentation was to bring attention to negative perceptions of individuals that live in public housing to aid in reducing that barrier to fair housing. We also explored the concept of ‘NIMBY-ism’ and how this viewpoint has a perpetuated these negative perceptions. We also hoped to empower individuals to organize among themselves and support organizations that are working to promote equity in their communities.

We were joined by Lisa Belkin, the author of ‘Show Me A Hero: A Tale of Murder, Suicide, Race, and Redemption’ the book that inspired the series as well as:

• Dione Dwyer, President of Resident Council – PT Partners

• Anika Singh Lemar, Clinical Professor at Yale Law School, and

• Maribel Betances, Resident Leader – PT Partners

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