The housing desegregation fight portrayed in Show Me a Hero (2015) is a small part of the much larger issue of segregation in Yonkers. The actual legal battle stretched from 1980 to 2007. In 1980 the United States and the NAACP of Yonkers filed a suit against the Yonkers Community Development Agency as well as the Yonkers Public School Board. In 1985 the District Court for the Southern District of New York found that both agencies named in the suit had reinforced racial segregation by isolating the majority of their low income housing in Southwest Yonkers. Additionally, Judge Sand (played by Bob Balaban) found that the Yonkers Public School Board had perpetuated segregation by “assigning disproportionate numbers of minority staff members to disproportionately minority-schools.” In 1986 the city cooperated with the court and integrated 27 of its 30 public schools.
As part of Sand’s decision, Yonkers was required to build 1,000 units of new public housing. 1985 was also the year that Nick Wasicsko was elected to his first term on the Yonkers City Council while still in law school. When the show picks up in 1987 Wasicsko was newly graduated and the city was facing a contempt order from the court. The show documents the legal and political gridlock that eventually gave way to the building of 200 units of public housing in a predominantly white neighborhood.