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Homelessness is Skyrocketing Because WORKING Poor Can’t Afford Housing

April 29, 2017

by Mara Gay
The Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2017

Pertinent points (I had to type these out myself from a photocopy because I don’t have a subscription):

About 13.5% of the jobs in the city pay minimum wage, according to an estimate by the Comptroller’s office, or $11 an hour for workers at businesses of at least 11 employees.

The combination of soaring real-estate prices and stagnant family incomes have squeezed today’s poor. Rents surged nearly 20% in real dollars from 2000 to 2014, while household income declined by 6.3% The number of people living in New York City shelters skyrocketed to more than 60,000 late last year, up from 21,009 in 2002.

Of the roughly 40,000 families with children living in shelter in New York City, 34% have earned income. Thousands more single adults and adult families in the system have paying jobs.

For comparison, Gay notes that in Los Angeles homelessness rose 11% to 28,000 in 2016. While no count has been kept, “city officials said they believed a sizable number of working poor in the city have begun living in cars or shelters.”

The crux of the problem:

Some 865,000 New York City households earned $25,000 or less annually in 2014–a group that can afford about $613 a month in rent and utilities, according to the city. In 1999, there were about 18,000 apartments on the market at or below that rent. In 2014, as homelessness surged, there were 2,662, city data show.

Our so-called progressive mayor, Bill DeBlasio, whose real name is Warren Wilhelm, Jr., has supplied us with Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Ability, which he has ludicrously claimed right in the plan will reduce homelessness.

Here is how I summed up these plans for Occu-Evolve/Occupy Wall Street’s April 1, 2017 housing conference program:

Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) is a citywide program developed by Mayor DeBlasio. It requires developers to include at least 10% “affordable housing” in new developments in rezoned areas (it has no effect in areas that have not been rezoned). It is again a corporate welfare program providing a tax abatement to wealthy developers. The bare minimum income of any family benefiting from this scheme is 40% of AMI, or $36,240 per year in 2016. It was approved by all but four members of the New York City Council on March 22, 2016. It was opposed by 55 of 59 community boards in New York City, which have pull but not power.

Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) is another city wide program, which is a companion piece to MIH. It primarily relates to senior housing and parking spaces. It eliminates minimum floor sizes for “affordable housing” for seniors ad well as the requirement for special permits to build senior centers. Terms defined by the program include “affordable independent residences for seniors” (“AIRS”), “long-term care facilities” (“LTCF”), and “income-restricted housing units.” It also increases the allowed heights for ground floors of buildings. It makes parking for affordable housing optional so long as there is easy access to mass transit, retail, and services. It establishes a Board of Standards and Appeals to deal with conflicts related to parking reductions.

Based on DeBlasio’s real name, I have begun using the hashtag #KaiserWilhomeless on Twitter, because he is willing for-profit real estate developers to cause vast increases in homelessness.

We have a Republicrat Governor, Andrew Cuomo, who has decided that the Area Median Income (AMI), which he developed when director of HUD, for the poorest Congressional district in the entire country, the South Bronx, is $84,000, by including wealthy suburbs like Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties. At the state level, we have the 421-A scam, which I described in the program thus:

421-A is a form of corporate welfare provided at the state level. It is defined “a 35-year post-construction tax exemption (a 100% exemption during the first 25 years and an exemption equal to the percentage of affordable units during the last 10 years)” along with a “100% exemption for a construction period of up to three years.” In exchange, developers must provide so-called “affordable housing,” which can be as much as 130% of Area Median Income, or intended for families of four making $117,780 per year in 2016. It is a scheme to drive out low income families by giving free money to wealthy developers.

Affordable housing is supposed to be 30% of your income, but by the AMI definition, housing that is affordable to people who make 80-130% of the AMI is considered “affordable housing,” even though this definition leaves out most New Yorkers who make under $50,000, and all New Yorkers who make under $30,000. The average household income in the five boroughs of New York City is $50,711, so how is $117,780 a month “affordable” by any rational person’s definition?

As long as the city refuses to track the artificial inflation of housing prices by the city and landlords holding onto vacant property to speculate rather than house New Yorkers, the capitalists will continue to turn the working poor into a cash cow, allowing so-called non-profits to rake in undeserved benefits by providing minimal service to the poor at government expense.


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