Monday, February 26, 2007

The Dream of Home Ownership – Poverty in NYC

In late January Mayor Bloomberg and NYCHA Chairman Hernandez announced that the Section 8 Housing lottery would be re-opened for the first time in twelve years. This was greeted with much praise from people around the country and rightly so. New York is the most populous city in the United States and a large part of the city is located on an island with no more room.

Millions of New Yorkers will most likely put their names into a lottery for these coveted spots. There has been much talk about the sales of some of the mismanaged federally rent controlled locations in the New York Area because of poor management. These housing units are some of the only places in New York that working class folks can actually live and be near work. But this could be seen as an economic “good” with people like Mayor Bloomberg touting NYC as a “luxury item.”

“But while the City technically moved from recession, a number of other economic indicators showed an opposite trend. Real wages declined by 1.5%, in addition to a 5.0% drop the previous year. The number of persons receiving public assistance increased during Fiscal Year (FY) 2004, as well as during the rest four months of FY 2005. In addition, the number of homeless in City shelters remained at record numbers, especially among single adults. Housing and Vacancy Survey data published two years ago also confirms that the vacancy rate remains below the 5% threshold, at 2.94% citywide,” (Housing NYC: Rents, Markets and Trends 2005).

The average cost to live in NYC is higher than anywhere else. The average cost of a rental is from $2,093.33 for a studio in a non-doorman apartment to $5,494.17 for a two bedroom with a doorman, in February of 2007. The tax burden for New Yorkers is higher than any other city. And still we don’t see a need for truly affordable housing.

(Updated: Average Costs - Monthly updates via The Real Estate Group)

There needs to be a city based not only the rich having their apartments along Park (or 1st Ave or West 109th Street with any address really). There needs to be people working in the hospitals, driving the busses, haul away the millions of tons of trash and other necessary jobs for a city of this size to actually work. But unless these folks start getting paid close to $100, 000 a year, they will not be able to afford to live in NYC.

And now to the dream of home ownership. They city does provide some “help” to those interested in buying a home and taking part in the American Dream. It is useful but not very practical.

The average price of a residential apartment was 1.3 MILLION last July and in 2006, the median apartment price for Manhattan was $750,000.

How can a person work a lower wage job in this city and then actually afford to live here? The management of the lower income housing projects is atrocious. The price of an apartment is outrageous. And MinWage is still $7.15.And the outlying areas aren’t that much cheaper. The question will become in the next decade, not where are the working class folks, because they will be gone from NYC, but where are the poor people?

This city and its “luxury” status have created a new paradigm. Working Class has turned to Working Poor, the Insanely Rich are Well Off and the Wealthy are Middle Class. It is scary to think that we live here. We - those of us to do live in and love NYC - have to keep this in mind as go about our days.

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