Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The "Affordable Housing" Hoax: Staten Island's North Shore

UP FRONT News      November 21, 2015
"The paper that won't be bought and can't be sold."
Published by Tom Weiss
Andrew Mazzone - Media Representative and Economics Advisor
Allen Smith - Economics Reporter
Steven Gradman - Internet Advisor
  The views expressed in UP FRONT News are those of the publisher or of the contributing writer and do not necessarily represent the views of staff.
  The fact that so-called "affordable housing" exists in New York City in and of itself implies that the City has "unaffordable" housing. In fact most of the housing in New York City, especially the stuff being built (check the Real Estate Section of the Sunday New York Times) is unaffordable. And the political reality that the profit-obsessed real estate developer lobby controls many "conservative" Republican and "liberal" Democrats  - many of the latter beholden to for example Hillary Clinton, whose relationship to Wall Street bankers and their developer pals domestic and foreign is a matter of record, Mrs. Clinton's opportunistic populist rhetoric notwithstanding - means that, in the absence of some heavy grass roots resistance, it's going to get worse.
   A "developing" gentrification war is taking place in the North Shore neighborhoods of the "forgotten borough" of Staten Island, the home to a mega-development expansion, with its nucleus the now under construction "world's largest ferris wheel" a few feet from the Staten Island Ferry terminal in St. George. While homelessness in Staten Island - and the rest of New York City - continues to spike, the acres of housing being rapidly built along the so-called Bay Street Corridor encompassing the neighborhoods of St. George, Tompkinsville, Stapleton (where I live) and Clifton (where police victim Eric Garner lived) will not reduce homelessness in any way. What it will do is alter the nature of the referenced working class neighborhoods in ways similar to what has happened in the erstwhile "affordable" Lower Manhattan neighborhood now known as TriBeCa, where I lived, a neighborhood now "affordable" to such working class heroes as Billy Crystal, Mariah Carey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Deron Williams, Jay-Z and  Beyonce, et. al.
   A advertisement in a New York City newspaper recently announced  that "applications are now being accepted for 142 rental apartments" at a project "being financed by NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR)" at 625 West 57th Street, between 11th and 12th Avenues in Manhattan - only a few blocks from Carnegie Hall and some of the world's most expensive and "unaffordable" skyscraper apartments.
  Fourteen studio apartments at that location are available at a certainly reasonable $565 monthly rent. Here's the catch. The maximum allowable income is $24,200 annually. That means Alex Rodriguez or Hillary Clinton (her complaint about being "broke" notwithstanding), and ex-NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver can't get in. Pity! The minimum income is $19,622 annually. That means that I am one of a lot of low income people who also can't get in.
 Some months ago I had a meeting with some staffers at the office of New York State Assembly member Walter Mosley (D.-Bklyn.). During that meeting I emphasized that there is something unacceptably ironic about "affordable" housing that excludes the poor. They did not disagree. Presumably Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, the very adequately "compensated" electeds in the NYS Legislature and the NYC Council - none of whom are presumably on the cusp of homelessness - can rectify this situation.
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