Focus groups: Don’t write off certain schools and certain communities

Following the publication of Long Island Divided, Newsday’s three-year investigation into real estate practices on Long Island, nextLI hosted two focus groups to discuss segregation and diversity in the region. Both groups included 10 to 12 residents who interacted for more than one hour each discussing the findings of the series and sharing their personal experiences with housing and discrimination on Long Island. Their overall feeling about the situation the series exposed? Disappointed but not surprised.

For the minorities in the group, the series was not shocking, as many of them said they’ve either lived it or witnessed it happening in their communities. As for the white participants, they acknowledged being aware of the issue of steering, but not the extent of it or how systematic the problem is. Only a couple of people called the series divisive and not helpful to the conversation.

While members of both groups say they welcome diversity in their neighborhood, the overall consensus was that it was not their main priority when looking for a home on Long Island. Rather, the primary goal was finding the best school district for their children. Several focus group participants challenged the idea that some school districts are better because of the low enrollment of students of color.

“Who gets to decide that our schools are not good enough because black students are the majority?” commented an Amityville resident, who says her school district might have a bad representation, but she had the best experience there growing up. Another participant’s daughter graduated from Harvard University and called out the real estate agents in the Newsday series who deemed the community was bad because of the school district.

Now it’s time to hear from you too. nextLI will be posting individual videos with focus group participants in the new year for you to react to and a full summary of what the groups shared on next.newsday.com.

— Coralie Saint-Louis, outreach and engagement manager

Another spotlight on LI housing bias

Ahead of last week’s State Senate hearings about housing discrimination on Long Island was a town hall that drew more than 100 attendees.

The event, sponsored by EOC Suffolk, Erase Racism, NAACP and Urban League of Long Island at the RXR building in Melville, included a discussion with Newsday investigative team members Olivia Winslow and Keith Herbert about what went into producing Long Island Divided, the three-year investigation of real estate practices. Erase Racism president Elaine Gross opened the town hall with a history of housing discrimination in the region and the event concluded with a panel that included Gross, LIA President Kevin Law, developer Les Bluestone and NAACP’s Gary Johnson.

Attendees participated by answering texting answers to questions posed by Gross and others. Responses then appeared together as a word cloud on the screen (pictured above).

The word attendees most often texted about how they feel in regard to housing discrimination on Long Island?


Watch the full event at this link.

— Amanda Fiscina, nextLI project manager

Sneak peek: Interactive housing map

Have you tried nextLI’s interactive housing calculator yet? With the hope of empowering Long Islanders with more data to assess the housing situation here, this tool provides the median housing costs in your area and allows you to compare the costs to neighboring towns and villages.

In January, we’ll launch a housing map that shows all the multi-family developments that currently exist here, as well as those that are proposed. From 55+ housing units to those designated as affordable to proposed developments, this map will show a comprehensive picture of what housing beyond single-family homes looks like on Long Island.

Help us build a key part of the map by submitting upcoming village and town meeting dates about proposed developments and other housing events in your area by emailing nextLI@newsday.com.

Coming soon!

  • Head to next.newsday.com in January and see our new look.
  • nextLI will share data trends at the January meeting of WEDLI, Women Economic Developers of Long Island.

Do you have an event, meeting or conference you’d like to feature in our newsletter? Email nextLI@newsday.com to be considered for our upcoming events section.