Skip to main content

Posts

CURMUDGUCATION

One of my favorite sites is www.CURMUDGUCATION.com. An educator, today he talked about how is it that the U.S. budget director could actually say that feeding children doesn't make a difference in their educational achievement. You have to read it.

Recent posts

Mayor de Blasio admits homelessness cannot be eliminated immediately.

After three years of blaming his predecessor, Mayor Bloomberg, for moving so slowly on housing the homeless, Mayor de Blasio finally admitted that it will take years to house so many homeless people. Of course, it is all Mayor Bloomberg's fault.




To add a different perspective, let us take a look at New York State and its inability to commit resources to the city's problem. During the Bloomberg administration, the state cut funding to the homeless from $164 million in FY2002 to $110 million in FY2012, a 33 percent cut.  In addition, the state cut the funding to one of the few programs to permanently house the homeless, the Advantage Program. Not only did the state cut the program, but the state also passed legislation that the city could not use other state funds for the program.




Then of course there is the federal government that has cut millions of dollars out of the public housing budget that houses so many of people in poverty. Thanks to the federal government, the New Yor…

The Disaster of Tax Liens on Low-Income Homeowners

During the Giuliani reign, the mayor created a tax lien program in which homeowners and landlords could easily lose their homes and apartment buildings. If a homeowner fell behind in his tax payments, the finance department would notify the homeowner and after waiting a short period of time, the finance department would sell the tax lien to a private corporation created by the mayor that would charge additional fees and 18 percent interest and attempt to collect the long, overdue taxes. If unsuccessful, the corporation would foreclose on the homeowner. The city would have one more homeless family or families.






There is another consequence to foreclosure. Homes are often bought by developers and renovated into market rate housing. This means that such homes are no longer available to low-income families.


Of course, it is isn't just homeowners who find they can no longer pay their property taxes but it is landlords of large buildings. the consequence of foreclosure for tenants in thi…

One Easy Change to Produce More Affordable Housing Units in NYC

In New York City, when Ed Koch was mayor, he had thousands of city-owned buildings that could be renovated to ease the affordable housing shortage and he did so. The next mayor, Rudolf Giuliani, changed the process. Beginning with the Giuliani regime, when the NYC's housing agency sued the owner of an apartment building to force repairs, the housing agency no longer foreclosed on that building. Instead it sells off that building's overdue bills so the city can recoup some of the fines and unpaid interest and water, sewer and other unpaid bills.




Stop selling off these properties. The whole process works through a trust which is financed by the sale of bonds to private investors. The trust collects payments and can seize the property if the bills are not paid. The city no longer owns the property. The property is in limbo. In a NYTimes article by Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Kim Barker, it is stated that from 2010 to 2015, more than 15,000 properties with roughly 43,600 resident…

Sexism

I know there are many reasons why Hillary Clinton lost the Presidency even though she did not lose the election but won it by almost 3 million votes. But one reason is stated usually only by older women who have seen a great deal in their life time.




I remember in 1997 when Ruth Messinger ran against Rudy Giuliani for the mayor's second term.  The Messinger campaign conducted a survey of likely voters and asked whether or not they would vote for a woman. Almost 25% said they would not vote for a woman. Now that was 20 years ago and times change. But they haven't changed that much.




A great many voters out there still will not vote for a woman for an executive position. There is research that documents voters willing to vote a woman into a legislative office but far less willing to vote a women into an executive one. This prejudice is not easily overcome.



What can New York City leaders do to retain and build affordable housing?

There are actions we can take to retain and build low-income housing:
The collusion between landlords, state officials and state and city legislators who control housing law is a story yet to be told but at a minimum the state must end vacancy destabilization and give the city control over rent control and rent stabilization units. In order to wrestle rent regulation away from the state, the Democratic Party has to take back the New York Senate. Every mayor in modern times, including Bloomberg, could have limited the rent increases in rent stabilization apartments if they had chosen pro-tenant appointees to the Rent Guidelines Board but they did not. Mayor de Blasio has named people to the board who voted to freeze increases. This needs to continue.Another part of the loss of affordable housing was through the loss of apartments in the Mitchell-Lama program or other programs that give tax exemptions in return for affordable units. The answer to the lack of affordable units stares all N…

Low-Income Housing

The lack of low-income housing lies at the feet of the federal government. America built housing for those in poverty for sixty years from the 30s to the 70s. Then it was over. Private developers took over, backed by federal tax credit incentives to build low-income housing. It was at this point that the homeless population in the states began to rise substantially.

Although many reasons have been given for the lack of sufficient low-income housing, such as the coop and condo conversions, vacancy decontrol and rising construction costs, the fact remains that, since the Great Depression, the only time this country had built large numbers of low-income housing units was when the federal government was building them.

Since private developers made far more profit building luxury housing, private developers have been quite reluctant to build sufficient low-income housing even with tax credits and incentives. Although tax incentives have provided developers some impetus to build low-income …