June 2, 2016

I Want My City Back

Rents in New York City are out of control, especially in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Wherever I go in my district, families are struggling to make payments. Mom-and-pop businesses are closing down.

High real estate prices are driving people out and changing the unique character of our neighborhoods. What makes New York special is being destroyed.

I’m proud of our city and can’t keep watching this happen. New Yorkers are telling me, “I want my city back.”

Young people find it hard to build a life in this city. Millennials have to move out when they reach their thirties because they can’t afford to live here. As a result, companies have a problem retaining experienced people. This threatens New York’s economic future as well as our quality of life right now.

Wealthy individuals from abroad buying luxury condos are driving real estate prices higher than a Central Park South tower. It’s not even a rental investment for them. They are often neither living in nor renting out their property. They are leaving us with brand new buildings lying empty and not contributing to the energy and diversity that makes New York so desirable.

“Hot money” distorts the market in another way. Developers are catering to the ultra-high-end market rather than the people who make our city work.

Fugitive investors are displacing those who are living here, reducing the number of available places to live in the city and inflating the price of rent for everyone in New York, including small businesses.

I am deeply troubled that those we have elected to represent us have completely failed to protect our most basic interest — a place to live and work. I can’t help but think it’s because their campaigns are funded by the very people who benefit from high real estate prices.

We need a new approach, and the solution will not be found solely in local government. The problem is not confined to New York. Hard working people in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Miami, even Taos, New Mexico are being priced out of their homes. Working together we can tackle this challenge.

We must address the fact that heavy student loan debt is pushing many college graduates out of the housing market, whether as owners or renters. Furthermore, developers need incentives to build for the people who live and work here.

Foreign investors should pay for the privilege of using New York real estate as a safety deposit box to park their money. A tax surcharge, starting at say 15%, on residential properties by people living abroad can be reinvested in building affordable housing for New Yorkers. The tax would also help curb the market for high-end properties and discourage developers from tearing down New Yorkers’ apartments and replacing them with luxury condos for absentee owners.

We also need reciprocity and transparency in the real estate market. India won’t let Americans buy apartments in Mumbai. Why should we let their tax fugitives price New Yorkers out of our homes? We welcome foreign investment, but we must make certain it benefits those who live here.

With new thinking and new approaches I’m confident we can make New York affordable for the people who make New York work, and build a bright future together.

9 Comments on “I Want My City Back

Irwin Hochler
June 6, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Sounds like a good start. We also need resumption of Mitchell Lama incentives to build more housing for working New Yorkers

June 7, 2016 at 1:40 am

Bloomberg gave 10year tax abatements to developers doesn’t in force housing regulations such as illegal basement rentals and occupancy regulations (more than one family living in one family houses

June 8, 2016 at 3:02 pm

I hope you mean what you say. As someone on Facebook posted, “We have been snookered before.” (See Bill de Blasio – protector of hospitals – R.I.P. LICH – and advocate of “affordable” housing.)

I don’t know who you are (yet) but I’m going to find out from my friends who are even more politically-engaged than I am.

Jason Gonzalez
June 15, 2016 at 8:50 pm

I moved out of my beloved city after I got divorced. It is too expensive to live. I commute from Stamford, CT where I live now.

Roger Sands
June 21, 2016 at 11:21 pm

I am so with you on this topic, let’s organize a national or global movement to take back our cities. You have articulated the problem very clearly, let’s unify and change this now.

June 24, 2016 at 11:18 am

I can’t afford to live in the neighborhood where I grew up. I can’t even afford to buy groceries there. The apartment next to my Mom’s is rented & shared by several millenials. The old floor plan has been carved up to make more tiny bedrooms. They pay more than four times my Mom’s rent controlled rate. There’s nothing affordable left on the Upper West Side anymore. Crown Heights got to be a bad bargain after 9 years there. Now we’ve moved to one of the 5 precincts in the city with the highest violent crime stats. Makes things like buying a home and starting a family tricky huh?

June 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm


I believe in restoration.
This displacement is OUT-OF -CONTROL!


June 27, 2016 at 7:03 pm

My 21 yo daughter graduates from FIT next spring. She wants to live and work in NYC. I simply do Not see how she will ever afford to do that without four roommates in a converted closet in Brooklyn. We need under 30 subsidized housing to keep talent in the city.

Samuel Finkelman
June 28, 2016 at 5:50 pm

We need looser zoning laws and building codes. Also more commercial real estate.


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