Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Housing Crunch For Orthodox Jews In New Jersey Places Focus On Real Estate Practices [UPDATED]

AP reported yesterday on the influx of ultra-Orthodox Jews into the town of Lakewood, New Jersey and surrounding communities.  AP reports that the influx is of Hasidic Jews, but as a commenter on Twitter to an earlier version of this post points out, the Jews in Lakewood, and the yeshiva that attracts them are largely in the Orthodox Lithuanian Jewish ("Yeshivish") tradition, not Hasidic. Nevertheless here is AP's report:
A housing crunch in Lakewood, home to one of the nation’s largest populations of Hasidic Jews, has triggered what residents of neighboring communities say are overly aggressive, all-hours solicitations from agents looking to find homes for the rapidly growing Jewish community.
The complaints have prompted towns, including Toms River, to update their “no-knock” rules and related laws, adding real estate inquiries to measures that already limit when soliciting can occur and allow residents to bar solicitations.
But Jewish leaders and others say the no-knock laws unfairly target Orthodox Jews and those seeking to help them find houses. Many current residents came to the community to study at one of the largest yeshivas in the world and eventually settled down....
On the other hand, some of the solicitation activity is reminiscent of the kind of activity that led to the federal Fair Housing Act's ban on "blockbusting."  42 USC Sec. 3604(e) makes it illegal:
For profit, to induce or attempt to induce any person to sell or rent any dwelling by representations regarding the entry or prospective entry into the neighborhood of a person or persons of a particular race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
AP describes one homeowner's experience:
James Jackson didn’t want to sell his home but thanked the black-suited man for his interest anyway.
That’s when the man put his hand on Jackson’s shoulder and told him he might want to reconsider. Many of his neighbors in the New Jersey shore town of Toms River, the man said, already planned to sell to Jewish buyers like those he represented.
“He asked me why I would want to live in a Hasidic neighborhood if I wasn’t Hasidic,” Jackson recalled. “He asked if I would really be happy, if it would be in my family’s best interests.”