Hasidic People: A Place in the New World

By Jerome R. Mintz | Go to book overview

· 25 ·
Satmar: Litigation and Leaflets

Bedford Rehabs

During the 1980s, when funds for public housing became unavailable, the Satmar community sought opportunities to construct housing for middle-income families who could afford to purchase an apartment or condominium. The plan to develop private housing in the Hasidic community was undertaken with the best of intentions, perhaps with the same good spirit with which the Tower of Babel was begun.

In 1982 the Bedford Rehabilitation Corporation was formed by the Jewish community in Williamsburg to rehabilitate four abandoned apartment houses provided by the city. The buildings, on Bedford Avenue between Ross and Rodney Streets, were to be renovated into sixty co-op apartments. Each apartment was to be designed with Hasidic needs in mind: there would be several bedrooms and an ample kitchen area as befitting a large family. The cost for an average apartment was initially estimated at fifty thousand dollars, a bargain on the expensive and limited New York real estate market. A low-cost loan in the neighborhood of five million dollars was arranged. The Sunset Construction Company, which undertook to develop the project, was advanced building materials by Certified Lumber, a company owned by two Satmar Hasidim, Isaac and Abe Rosenberg.

Interest in Bedford Rehabs was so intense in the Hasidic community that as construction got under way in 1984 a lottery was required to assign the apartments. Present at the drawing of the winning numbers were Hasidim from Satmar, Pupa, Vizhnitz, Tselem, and Devina, as well as members of other courts and congregations, most of whom had representatives on the Executive Board of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg.

Several hundred people were there. There was a stage and they picked out envelopes. There were cries of joy and cries of pain. I was number 41. (FR)

-298-

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