As dyed-in-the-wool middle class New Yorkers, we have all, (at one time or another) lamented the fact that adequate living space in our fair city is no longer attainable for those who are simply in no financial shape to shell out $1 million for a studio apartment in Manhattan.
Cries for affordable housing in New York City are justified to a great degree, and Mayor deBlasio has tenaciously striven to fulfill his campaign pledge to make matters way more difficult for luxury housing developers to dominate the city’s real estate market.
Having said that, we must take a closer look into precisely what the ramifications are for the poor and indigent as a result of the heavily subsidized housing that the city has made an objective.
Right now, an agreement is before the city council for final zoning approval on 1723 new housing units in Queens called Astoria Cove. It is now headed back to city planning and then to the city council for formal approval before the end of the month.
The politically left progressives on the city council are pleased as punch that they succeeded in pressuring Alma Realty (the developer) to increase the number of subsidized units they were going to build to 27 percent rather than the original 20 percent that was discussed. Moreover, the developer has given their imprimatur to increase the amount of subsidies and to sign contracts that would allow exclusive union labor to build these units.
While it superficially sounds like such city council members as Councilman Costa Constantinides, (who represents Astoria) scored a resounding victory for their constituents, we need to understand that the poor may not positively benefit from this strategy.
DeBlasio’s agenda may come to an abrupt halt when one stops to think about the fact that the constant imposition of massive costs on prospective builders will eventually reduce their revenues and thereby discourage them from further development of affordable housing. Potential investors will likely “run for the hills” when confronted with protracted negotiations with arrogant deBlasio underlings on the city council who possess a palpable avarice when it comes to meeting their needs.
As the New York Post correctly opined, “While the subsidies slow any expansion of the city’s housing supply, they also increase demand. That will exacerbate the shortage and drive up apartment costs.”
In a press release issued by Councilman David Greenfield of Brooklyn, he noted that his colleague Councilman Constantinides “also negotiated as part of the project improvements to a NYCHA senior center, a local park, public library and a ferry dock.” He added that “this project is the perfect trifecta - it provides thousands of good jobs, 468 units of affordable housing and many improvements to the local community."
While this might sound all fine and dandy, exactly who is really expected to benefit? Certainly not those who legitimately cannot afford decent housing. The housing burden for the poor will not resolved by demanding that developers exceedingly boost subsidies or having elected officials slap extra costs on developers. Just bear in mind that most developers won’t ever want to even consider New York City as a place that they’d like to step foot in because there is very little in it for them.
History has provided more than ample evidence to support the argument that those fortunate tenants who are able to obtain dirt cheap rents eventually climb the economic ladder and can eventually afford better residences but have proven reluctant to vacate their apartments to those who really cannot afford anywhere else to live.
Standing up for the poor also requires us to stand up for developers who really want to transform New York City into a much better place without being squeezed out by those carrying a political grudge.