Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mayor Bloomberg says New York City's lack of affordable housing is a 'good sign' of a vibrant economy because 'more people want to live here'


Advocates slammed the mayor's comments as 'absurd' - and insensitive toward people being squeezed out of their homes by rising rents

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Health crusader Mayor Bloomberg favors peanut butter and bacon sandwiches but admits ‘the cholesterol will go right to your veins.’

ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images

In his weekly radio appearance on WOR-AM, Bloomberg said housing is scarce because 'as fast as we build, more people want to live here.'

The city’s lack of affordable housing actually is a “good sign” of a vibrant economy, Mayor Bloomberg said Friday in remarks that touched off fresh criticism that he is out of touch.
In his weekly radio appearance on WOR-AM, Bloomberg said housing is scarce because “as fast as we build, more people want to live here.”
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He added that market forces — developers building housing to meet the demand — would help to address that need.
“Somebody said that there’s not enough housing. That’s a good sign,” Bloomberg said.
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“It doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem, but there are no vacancies. That will bring in investment, for people to build for all income levels, different kinds of housing,” he said.
Bronxdale Houses, childhood home for Sonia Sotomayor, remains a low-income residential community in Bronx.

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Bronxdale Houses, childhood home for Sonia Sotomayor, remains a low-income residential community in Bronx.

“In cities, if you want to have lots of vacancies where everybody could easily find a place, you don’t have a good economy.”
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He added that all that demand is great for business, and it makes him popular with construction workers and developers. “When I march by in a parade, I get a lot of waves. Construction workers should be very happy. Developers should be very happy,” he said.
Housing advocates said Bloomberg is correct that a growing city is a good thing — but that the mayor largely was missing the point.
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“It is better to have the problem of a city that’s growing than a city that’s shrinking,” said Benjamin Dulchin, executive director of the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Developers in New York City.
But, he added, “The rezoning this administration has done to encourage development is largely market-rate housing. There’s a lot of building going on, but it is not necessarily what our population needs.”
The lack of affordability reflects demand. Above, Trump International Hotel and Towers at Columbus Circle.

Peter Carroll/GETTY IMAGES

The lack of affordability reflects demand. Above, Trump International Hotel and Towers at Columbus Circle.

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Craig Gurian, of the Anti-Discrimination Center in New York City, which lobbies for affordable housing, said median monthly gross rents in the city rose 8.5% from 2007 to 2011 while median household income fell 6.8%, making it harder for New Yorkers to stay in their homes.
“The affordable housing crisis has gotten worse on his watch. He’s literally out of touch. He doesn’t experience what most people in the city are experiencing, which is a much greater sense of insecurity than they felt 12 years ago,” Gurian said.
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“New Yorkers are spending more of their income on housing than ever,” he added. “The mayor’s idea of how to measure progress on this issue is wrong.”
Some politicians joined in the criticism.
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Advocates slammed Bloomberg for being insensitive toward New Yorkers being squeezed out of their homes by rising rents. Above, a high rise on the far West Side of Manhattan.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Advocates slammed Bloomberg for being insensitive toward New Yorkers being squeezed out of their homes by rising rents. Above, a high rise on the far West Side of Manhattan.

“This is part of what ... has made people hungry for change,” said City Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn). “People want to see empathy from their mayor.”
A Bloomberg spokesman pointed out that the mayor acknowledged that there is a problem, and defended the administration’s record on affordable housing.
“He is stating the reason for the problem, and acknowledging the problem in both his words and in action, with the largest affordable housing program in the country and by investing in our public housing while the feds have cut off funding and other cities have walked away from public housing,” said Marc LaVorgna, the spokesman.
“Our problem here is what he said: people want to live here — so the demand is intense.  Cities like Detroit or Camden, New Jersey, have plenty of low-cost housing available — not because of some commitment to affordability, but because there is no comparable demand to live in those places. You prefer to have our problem over theirs.”
BLOOMBERG'S BLUSTER
Mayor Bloomberg has never been shy about his opinions. In his final months in office, he's showing no sign of slowing down.
On Billionaires: "If we could get every billionaire around the world to move here, it would be a godsend."
On Bill de Blasio: "De Blasio is running a 'class-warfare and racist' campaign.'"
On School Overcrowding: "It's a problem that's a very serious problem, but it's a nice problem to have that our kids want to go to school."
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