Racism’s Ugly Face in Wisconsin

Housing developers say the mayor of New Berlin buckled to racist pressure and shut down an affordable housing project. To “save his political career,” the builders say, the mayor, who is not racist himself, truckled to community fears that affordable housing would draw minorities to the city, which is 93.3 percent white.
     MSP Real Estate and Deer Creek Homes sued the City of New Berlin and Mayor Jack Chiovatero in a Fair Housing Act complaint in Federal Court.
     Chiovatero initially supported the project, the Minnesota-based developers say, but was worn down after being called a “nigger lover.”
     “Mayor Chiovatero was fully aware that opposition from members of the public to MSP’s development had a very substantial racial component and was, accordingly, unlawful,” the complaint states. “He was berated and vilified both publicly and privately for having supported the development. The racial underpinnings of much of the opposition was indicated by, among other things, a sign left facing his home, calling the mayor a ‘nigger lover.’ Opponents of the development, knowing that Mayor Chiovatero had been adopted as a child, even took the step of sending someone to check public records to see if he had any ‘African-American blood.'”
     New Berlin, with a population of around 39,000, has a median household income of $75,853, more than 50 percent higher than the state median of $49,993, according to CityData.com, which cites the U.S. Census Bureau.
     The development at issue was to have “80 new multifamily housing units and 100 senior apartments,” according to the complaint. “The new multifamily housing units were intended for occupancy by tenants who have a regular source of income but whose annual household income does not exceed 60% of Waukesha County’s median income.”

Read remainder of the story at Courthouse News Service


About Bob Voelker

Vice President and General Counsel, StreetLights Residential - Building Places that Life the Human Spirit.
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