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The Fair Housing Fight in 'Show Me a Hero' Is Happening in Every City in America

David Simon’s HBO miniseries, premiering Sunday, looks back at a specific time and place. But the same issues are boiling over today.
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Show Me a Hero tells a story set in Yonkers in 1987, but it might as well be the story of Yonkers in the here and now. The mini-series, premiering Sunday at 8 p.m. on HBO, explores the turmoil that erupted there nearly 30 years ago after the city bowed to a federal court order to desegregate its housing. An untested mayor led the effort to build low-income townhouses in more affluent neighborhoods. White residents reacted as if they’d been bitten by rattlesnakes. The effort consumed Yonkers.

That battle is still consuming Yonkers today. In Westchester County, whose most populous city is Yonkers, Democratic voters outnumber Republicans nearly two to one. Yet they elected a Republican county executive, in 2009 and again in 2013, largely on his promise to resist (another) fair-housing mandate.