- The Washington Times - Monday, March 30, 2015

New York City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo has argued “there could be some benefit” to assigning housing by ethnic group.

The Democrat has come under fire from the Asian community after she asked Thursday during a council hearing on public housing why “blocs” of Asians are living in two Fort Greene housing projects, the New York Post reported.

“I know that there are many different languages and many different dialects, but how is it that one specific ethnic group has had the opportunity to move into a development in large numbers?” asked Ms. Cumbo, who is black.

She later told the Post that “there could be some benefit to housing people by culture.”

“I think it needs to be discussed,” Ms. Cumbo added.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin, a Chinese-American, slammed the comments as divisive.

“I am troubled by Council Member Cumbo’s recent comments regarding Asian-Americans who live in public housing within her district, as well as her comments about ‘housing people by culture,’ ” she said, adding that she had since offered to help Ms. Cumbo with outreach to Asian-American residents, the New York Observer reported. “This is New York City, after all, and it is our responsibility as Council members to do everything in our power to bring our constituents together.”

Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim, the first Korean-American elected to the state legislature, called Ms. Cumbo’s remarks “distinctly disturbing” and demanded a full apology, the Observer reported.

“The latest comments by Ms. Cumbo raises clear red flags for me as I am still unclear of her intentions behind her questions,” he said in a statement. “I encourage Council Member Cumbo to stop making excuses and apologize to all New Yorkers for her ignorant comments. She keeps digging a bigger hole for herself and creating a divide between communities in her district and in our city.”

Ms. Cumbo issued an apology on Friday saying it was not her intention to offend the Asian community and that she only wanted to know if the New York City Housing Authority was giving Asian-Americans a “cultural preference priority.”

NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye said it did not and noted its vacancy rate is less than 1 percent, making such an influx nearly impossible, the New York Post reported.

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