De Blasio’s Plan | What Renters Face in New York City | Affordable Housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park

May 13th 2014

(credit: Emon Hassan, The New York Times)

  1. A plan built on assumptions. Another report, from New York University’s Furman Center, used the example of a rookie firefighter and a substitute teacher, with one child, who 14 years ago could have afforded 70 percent of the city’s available rental units. Between 2007 and 2012, they would have been able to afford fewer than half. [The New York Times – 05/09/14]
  2. Gimme shelter. New York has certainly become less affordable. Between 2005 and 2012, the median inflation-adjusted rent in the city rose 11%, while the median renter’s income rose only 2%, according to the Furman Centre at New York University. It reckons that 54% of New York tenants spent more than 30% of their income on rent (the usual cutoff for ‘affordable’), up from 40% in 2000. [The Economist – 05/10/14]
  3. Affordable housing may be coming to Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Bloomberg administration established the plan to fund Brooklyn Bridge Park by building on-site luxury apartments, but now that de Blasio is in charge he’s putting his own spin on it, and talking about adding affordable housing to the mix. Predictably, some of the neighbors are not taking the news well. At a meeting with neighborhood groups last week, park officials revealed that a 16-story, 140-unit tower, the smaller of two buildings planned for Pier 6, could include an affordable component. [Curbed NY – 05/09/14]
  4. Capital real estate: de Blasio talks up affordable housing in budget. The mayor used the word ‘progressive’ five times as he delivered a City Hall speech outlining the budget. He discussed affordable housing issues - though there were few specifics - and said he wants deliver an additional $70 million to the New York City Housing Authority for security and repairs. He discussed at some length his ambitious goal of creating or preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing within a decade. [Capital New York – 05/09/14]
  5. Why the housing bubble tanked the economy and the tech bubble didn’t. Despite seeing similar nominal dollar losses, the housing crash led to the Great Recession, while the dot-com crash led to a mild recession. Part of this difference can be seen in consumer spending. The housing crash killed retail spending, which collapsed 8 percent from 2007 to 2009, one of the largest two-year drops in recorded American history. The bursting of the tech bubble, on the other hand, had almost no effect at all; retail spending from 2000 to 2002 actually increased by 5 percent. [FiveThirtyEight – 05/12/14]
  6. How a low-income San Francisco neighborhood is building a culture of disaster preparedness. In the Bay Area, many people understand it in terms of earthquakes, and preparing for ‘The Big One.’ (A quake destroyed the city in 1906; the 1989 quake caused significant damage.) Others see it largely in the context of climate change and preparing for rising seas and prolonged droughts like the one California has been suffering through for three years.  Some talk of resilience in terms of strengthening at-risk communities, increasing economic opportunity and decreasing crime. And still others see it as diversifying local economies to protect against housing busts, stock-market crashes and other kinds of economic shocks. [The Atlantic Cities – 05/07/14]
  7. How housing weakness may change the Fed’s game. When Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testified before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress last week, she added a new variable to the Fed’s policy mix - weakness in the housing market. While in recent weeks, and months, the Fed has focused on two economic variables that are being most closely watched - unemployment and inflation - the mention of housing was significant. Not since the immediate aftermath of the bursting of the real-estate bubble has the Fed focused on the foundation of the American economy as a significant factor is guiding decisions on interest rates and quantitative easing. [CNBC News – 05/12/14]
  8. Upper West Side facade snatchers. It goes without saying that Broadway on the Upper West Side is a commercial street, a cacophonic corridor of delis, shoe stores, locksmiths and coffee shops. But what is now a retail strip began with quite different aspirations, as a boulevard of residential refinement, which in the early 1900s certainly meant no stores. Big chain stores and huge garish signage overtook this once domestic idyll after World War I, but in the last two decades the Age of Preservation has brought commerce to heel. [The New York Times – 05/08/14]
  9. City-managed rent regulation: disastrous for housing stock? According to Charles Urstadt, for whom a 1971 law granting Albany authority over New York City rent regulation is named, rolling back the legislation would make the Big Apple ‘look like Havana.’ Urstadt told Crain’s that such a measure, which Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed, would prove disastrous for the city’s housing stock. The former state housing official argued that handing over rent control to a progressive, tenant-friendly council would result in rent hike rollbacks or freezes while costs continue to rise for building owners. [The Real Deal Magazine – 05/09/14]
  10. Paris’ real-estate madness: like ours, only different. In general, as exorbitant as real-estate prices are in Paris - especially for studios that make NYC studios look gigantic in comparison, and that often come with only two hotplates and a tiny stand-up shower - they are still somewhat cheaper than in New York. As far as rentals go, in my past few years of obsessive l├Ęche-vitrine - window-shopping, though literally it means ‘window-licking’ - in Paris to compare rentals to New York, I’ve concluded that it’s still generally cheaper to rent there than here. [New York Magazine – 05/09/14]
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