If you live in New York City and find that the cost of living is literally bleeding your wallet dry, that’s actually a good thing according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The level of near-poverty experienced by many New Yorkers actually means that the economy is in great shape and if you can’t afford to live there, ship out because folks all around the country are lining up to take your place.
In semi-related news, Bloomberg’s comments have sparked a whole new round of criticism that the controversial pol is desperately out of touch.
During his weekly radio interview on WOR-AM, Bloomberg said that the lack of affordable housing is a “good sign” of a vibrant economy, and that such housing is difficult to find because “as fast as we build, more people want to live here.”
“Somebody said that there’s not enough housing. That’s a good sign,” Bloomberg said, adding that market forces will help address that need.
“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.
The mayor continued, “In cities, if you want to have lots of vacancies where everybody could easily find a place, you don’t have a good economy.”
He also said that the demand and scarcity of affordable housing is also good for business, and that his policies have made him popular with voters who get the bigger picture. Well, construction crews and developers who get the bigger picture. “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.
Though housing advocates agree that Bloomberg’s point about a growing city is indeed a good, they say that his rationale is pretty flawed.
“It is better to have the problem of a city that’s growing than a city that’s shrinking,” Benjamin Dulchin, executive director of the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Developers in New York City told NY Daily.
But, “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.”
Additionally, median monthly gross rent prices in the city have shot up over eight percent under Bloomberg’s watch, while median income has fallen more than six percent.
“The affordable housing crisis has gotten worse on his watch,” said affordable housing lobbyist Craig Gurian, of the Anti-Discrimination Center in New York City. “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.”
Since more of the average New Yorker’s income is going to housing now than ever before, Bloomberg’s idea for measuring economic progress is painfully flawed, Gurian argued.
But a Bloomberg spokesman said that the mayor is right on the money.
“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,” said spokesman Marc LaVorgna.
So remember, kids. The lack of affordable housing in New York City is your fault because you want to live there, and because: Shut up, that’s why.
Do you think that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is out of touch with reality?