Major 'Mayor-de-Blasio-FAIL’ re NYC Homelessness & Housing
Philip Guelpa in “New York City’s housing and homelessness crisis intensifies under de Blasio” offers some very troubling statistics and analyses. Bill de Blasio, NYC Democratic mayor, has been in office a year now and the enormous problems of homelessness and unaffordable housing are worsening even from the “12-year-mayoral-tenure” of billionaire Mike Bloomberg.
Here are 15 serious considerations from Guelpa’s report and analysis:
1) During Bloomberg’s reign the city’s homeless population increased between 60 and 71 percent. At the end of 2013, the Coalition for the Homeless reported that 53,331 people were sleeping in city homeless shelters. After one year of de Blasio’s administration the total is 58,469, almost a 10 percent increase. This total does not include those sleeping on the street. Official estimates put that number at 3,300, but homeless advocates say the total is much higher. The de Blasio administration has opened 23 new homeless shelters, but this does not keep pace with the sharp rise in NYC homeless.
2) NYC has the largest concentration of billionaires in the world. In 2014 the total was 103, up from 96 in 2013. The phenomena of more billionaires and more homeless are obviously linked.
3) De Blasio’s past and proposed actions to deal with homelessness and lack of affordable housing consist mainly of cosmetic gestures and policies that will enrich NYC’s powerful real estate players. De Blasio promised early on to “build and preserve” 200,000 affordable housing units over eight years’ time. The bottom line of this plan is to enrich private developers with $8 billion of citizen tax dollars.
4) De Blasio appointed a Goldman Sachs insider, Alicia Glen, as the New York deputy mayor for housing and economic development!
5) De Blasio, as Bloomberg, subsidizes rent by “putting money in pockets of landlords.” This policy avoids addressing the plight of the homeless. De Blasio’s focus is on offering tax breaks and other incentives to private landlords and developers as “inducements” for affordable housing. One of the inducements is “poor door” buildings in which the wealthy enjoy separate entrances and amenities like gym facilities, etc., which are NOT available to ordinary fellow tenants.
6) “Affordable” labeled housing in NYC is “unaffordable” for many. There is a scarcity of this so-called “affordable” housing, as well. For a lottery of “affordable” apartments in 2 Queens apartment buildings there were 92,000 applications. Earlier in the year, nearly 60,000 applications were received for 105 apartments in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. In the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn more than 70,000 applications were submitted for affordable housing in a building with just 38 units.
7) Presently there is a luxury high-rise being constructed in Tribeca, one of the steepest priced rental neighborhoods. Of the 942 apartments in this building, 738 will be for “moderate” income people. These “moderate” rents range from $1,561-$1997 for a studio to $2,729-$4,346 for a three bedroom apartment. These prices are below regular market rates but the supposed “moderate incomes” they are based on begin at $50,000 annually. HALF of city households fall below this amount.
8) In the lowest median income borough of NY, The Bronx, a recent study revealed a three-bedroom apartment costs nearly $2,000 per month, 68 percent of the annual mean household income in that borough. Approximately 60 percent of renters there pay more than one-third of their income for rent. According to the US Census, median income in The Bronx is $34,388, unemployment is 9.5%, and 30% of the population lives under the official poverty line.
9) Along with unemployment and low and frozen wages, housing is increasingly made unaffordable by a real estate price bubble being fueled by domestic and foreign investors. These purchases are “safe haven” and “speculative” investments by wealthy people who will spend little or no time in these residences. A recent study reveals 25% of NYC apartments are not used as primary residences by their owners. Therefore, the owners do not pay city income taxes. That percentage is even higher for Manhattan. Guelpa writes: “Bowing to real estate interests, Mayor de Blasio has reportedly rejected a proposed luxury tax on absentee landlord and pieds-à-terre properties.”
10) Prices for “ultra-luxury” apartments surpass what they were prior to the financial crash. In 2008 the average price was $1,591,823. In 2014 it is $1,718,530.
11) A chain reaction of migration to poorer neighborhoods by middle income families is occurring, increasing housing costs there and forcing residents in these “marginal” neighborhoods to turn over a much greater portion of their incomes for rent or move to even more “marginal” neighborhoods or tragically end up “on the streets.”
12) The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) administers to 334 public housing complexes. It is facing a $13 billion shortfall in capital funding. This is due to falling federal funding support. In 2001 Federal capital grants totaled $420 million. Now they total $259 million.
13) Due to lack of NYCHA funding, requests for repairs often go unanswered for months or even years. 430,000 unprocessed requests were made in 2014. 16 tenants in the Frederick Douglass Houses on the Upper West Side of Manhattan have brought suit against NYCHA. They have been contending with” rat and bedbug infestations, collapsing walls and ceilings, a lack of working toilets and sinks, broken radiators, and rampant mold.” Some of these problems have continued on for years.
14) De Blasio’s solution to the crisis of NYCHA is to propose a new nonprofit entity to [WAIT FOR IT!!!] seek DONATIONS FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR!!!! So the government is essentially BEGGING (Guelpa’s word) from the rich for handouts for the public housing system.
15) De Blasio also proposes to sell off 50% of six of the City housing complexes to a private developer as co-owner. The city would pay the private landlord the difference between the subsidized rents for tenants and the “market rates”. After 30 years, the private developer would have the option of buying the remaining 50% and charging higher market rates for ALL apartments. This is the road to total privatization of NYCHA. This dooms all NYC residents ultimately to being at the mercy of crushing housing prices.