A few weeks ago the Times reported on two mostly-white Bronx communities that are accused of plotting to keep black families out, but inside the developments many think the charges are “baloney.” They say their co-op boards are picky, but according to Richard Ardisson, a firefighter who lives in Silver Beach Gardens, “That’s what keeps it nice. Everybody’s got a good job. No one wants garbage in here.”
The Fair Housing Justice Center—the group that’s suing the communities—sent two couples, one black one white, to inquire about purchasing homes in the two communities on Long Island Sound. In a federal lawsuit, It accuses a broker for Silver Beach Gardens and Edgewater Park of warmly receiving the white couple, while turning the black couple away. Allegedly she told the pair the communities were “Archie Bunker territory.”
Some residents claim it’s not who you are that will get you into the community but who you know. “If you don’t know people here, you ain’t getting in, I don’t care if you’re the president,” Jim Tibbatts, a retired construction worker who lives in Edgewater Park told the Times. Still according to the lawsuit a broker offered to procure recommendations for the white couple, but made no such gesture for the black couple.
The communities were born as beach developments in the early 1900’s and have remained safe spaces from the rough Bronx neighborhoods that surround them. For people who live there, a fear of outsiders reflects concerns about dropping property values and increases in crime. “Historically, it’s been a white community, and people usually sell to someone they know,” said one man. “Sales to outsiders I don’t think are too common.” Another added that even if a “rich black person” moved in, he said “Someone would figure, ‘There goes the neighborhood.’”