NYC is one of the top 10 most diverse cities in America, making us the most diverse place on the East Coast (give or take an Atlantic City and Jersey City). But where exactly is the most diverse place IN NYC? Look no further than the humble neighborhood of Williamsburg, which despite being a gentrifying moneyhole filled with Urban Outfitters restaurants and sober morning raves, is also home to the most diverse apartment building in America.
The New Republic enlisted TargetSmart, a political data firm, in their quest to find the most diverse building. TargetSmart screened their national voter files for racial diversity, and concluded that 31 Leonard Street takes the cake. The building is one of seven that make up Lindsay Park (which happens to be a very pro-Vito Lopez building), a 2,700-unit government-subsidized affordable housing cooperative designed for low- and middle-income families.
Here are some fun facts about the building's population:
The 22-story building has 586 residents who are almost evenly divided by race into thirds: 33.1 percent white, 31.1 percent East Asian, 30.3 percent Hispanic, and 4.3 percent African American. This is in sharp contrast to the rest of Williamsburg, which is 86 percent white, 11 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent black, according to the Center for Urban Research. The average resident at 31 Leonard Street makes $25,600 per year, 60 percent of them have finished high school, and 40 percent graduated from college. An overwhelming majority, 83 percent, is unmarried.
To live in one of the 418 units at 31 Leonard Street, residents must fulfill income restrictions: a maximum income of $75,156 a year for a one-person household and $107,343 for a four-person household. Co-op units are purchased for a single upfront sum (no mortgages), after which residents pay a monthly maintenance fee. The costs, though, are low. A studio costs between $5,600 and $6,900 to buy, with a $660 monthly fee, while a three-bedroom apartment (the largest available) costs between $12,100 and $15,100 to purchase and around $1,400 a month in maintenance fees. (For contrast, the average rent for a Williamsburg studio is $2,837 a month.)
Of course, having a diverse building doesn't ensure that there will be a community of any sort: "We don’t know who our neighbors are," Antonia Ortiz, 67, who has lived in the building for 41 years, told them. "People are in their own groups. We don’t have any group activities, meetings—nothing. Diversity works two ways. You can have diversity, but one group keeps to its own, and the rest of you are on the other side." So the most diverse building in America also sounds like one of the loneliest buildings in America.