By George Capsis
Carol Yost, who scans the news with a mesh grid, sent me a Daily News article of November 26 that offered that tenants and developers “stand together” to push for changes in the rent law that will protect the safeguards in the original law of some 80 years ago.
Hmm. Well, I do not believe that developers want rent control and reading on I realize that the 3 female authors of this article seem to have entertained more wish than fact.
Rent control came on at the end of the war to keep rents stable as the GI’s returned from overseas and started families. I mean, think of it—there were absolutely no apartment buildings in New York from 1929 till the war ended and we got those big red brick boxes on 6th Avenue built as cheaply as humanly possible.
The hot style in the 20s was English Tudor and you see it in the apartment houses on the west side of Washington Square Park and the building across the street from the Chase Bank on 7th Avenue.
The architectural history of New York can be seen in the waves of building with each financial tsunami (we have one going on now with a bunch of Lego towers popping up on every empty parking lot).
The article tells us that we still have 150,000 buildings under some kind of rent regulation and a third of New York’s 2.5 million rent stabilized tenants pay more than half their income for rent (should be a third).
Our 3 authors then go on to catalog the newish regulations that allow for rent increases—like deregulation when the rent hits a certain number—deregulation when a tenant moves out—rent increases when the landlord puts in a new sink and fridge.
Just as I was writing this a friend of Dusty’s arrived who is a professor in Vermont College in Burlington and he rattled off a mirror image to the rising rent story in Vermont with students paying crazy rents and people losing their apartments or homes and having to move in with relatives.
The plea, (no) the suggestion that developers were getting together with legislators to restore rent control is explained by the job titles of the 3 authors, “President of the New York Association for Affordable Housing” and “Civil Reform for the Legal Aid Society,” and finally “Vice President, Enterprise Community Partners.”
Well no, I don’t think the businessmen who build apartments for profit spend too much time thinking about how they can make them affordable. The city does give them years of not paying any real estate tax if they make some apartments “affordable” but I understand that after a tenant moves out of the “affordable” apartment it somehow reverts to market price.
The nice man from whom Dusty bought her 9-11 bus now facing the wrong way on 7th Avenue turned out to be an apartment builder in Astoria and when we asked “how’s business” he frowned and said “the land is too high”—so we see it starts with the land.
New York’s solution to housing permanently poor people is public housing and it has been since La Guardia in the 1930s. Google offers that we have over 400,000 people in NYCHA and last night I saw on the news a group of African American NYCHA dwellers in the Bronx protesting that their heat was out (institutional housing has bureaucratic funding kinks and it takes a year to replace a heating plant).
Oh, but wow, here is what Carol pays for her studio:
“To be exact, I currently pay $610.29. Under the previous lease, I paid $602.76, which remained for more than a year because of that lovely rent freeze. It’ll go up to $619.44 with my renewal lease March 1st.
My guess—her studio apartment with a coat of paint and a new stove would get $3000.
OK. OK, where are we going with this?
When you read that Carol is paying $600 for her studio and you are paying like $4000 for a similar space you are intensely jealous and you hate Carol.
Yes, bureaucracy makes for injustice…
So we return to the good intentions of our three authors who project and predict a fused common will between beatified developers and enlightened legislators to build “affordable” housing.
I don’t think so.
But former mayor Bloomberg just gave $1.8 billion to his old school, Johns Hopkins, bang—just like that.
So we have a new force in the world—billionaires—and we are told they are growing in numbers as the world’s economy slides faster and faster into their hands.
So, we must wait for those billionaires to emerge—a very few—perhaps only one super super billionaire who has, with an unassailable algorithm, inherited nearly all of the earth’s wealth to turn and look into the TV camera and announce he will give unending trillions to rehouse the world and demonstrate what could have been done if only God had money.