Out of Comptrol
I am 22 and I own a modest apartment in the Village. I am not an Ecclestone sister, fertilizer heiress or start up sell out. I am a normal 20-something. I don’t own a matching set of dishes, and I’m not entirely sure how to do laundry without ruining something.
Before the purchase, I was shelling out over $2,000 a month for a four flight walk-up, a glorified attic in the not-yet-chic part of Alphabet City. The building was home exclusively to 20-somethings who assumed this is how we should be living. For us, that’s what Manhattan housing is: terrible walk-up apartments in trendy neighborhoods or luxury apartments with three or more roommates.
Brooklyn Do or Die
It’s not just the mayor’s race that’s growing increasingly contentious.
At an Uptown campaign stop that was billed as former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s first policy proposal announcement, the comptroller candidate toured the Frederick Douglass NYCHA housing complex before briefly criticizing Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial proposal to fingerprint all public housing residents–all the while mercilessly blasting his opponent.
Money magazine posted a slideshow today of the 10 “Best” Big-City Neighborhoods” in America, based on who knows what algorithm. (But if we had to guess from the city bios written by the staff, it has something to do with the crime rate divided by the number of coffeeshops and/or farmers markets per square foot. Also, pre-schools.)
And holy moly, look at that first neighborhood on the list! Why, it’s nowhere but Park Slope! And its contribution to Brooklyn being the second most expensive city in the country, it turns out the Slope is actually less aspirational to live in than three other “best” big-city neighborhoods! Go team!
It isn’t much of a relief, but fashion and beauty blogger PJ Gach, who recently took to the internet to try and raise the $7,739 in back rent she needs to pay her landlord to fend off eviction, now has until May 8 to pay up or move out.
When The Observer spoke with Ms. Gach this afternoon—she was heading out of housing court a day after her deadline to pay the back rent—she was cautiously optimistic about getting a few more days.
Ms. Gach’s plight—which started when she was laid off as a senior editor from Betty Confidential in November and was unable to make her $1,759 rent payments in December, January and February—has earned her both sympathy and vitriol online (it’s also earned her about $500 in donations, though there’s little chance that she’ll be able to summon the remaining $7,200 in the next week and a half.)
During the last few decades, Brooklyn has shaken off the vinyl-clad, working-class outer-borough stigma so completely that it can be hard to remember a time when New Yorkers ever dismissed the borough of Kings as a place you came from rather than went to. Indeed, it may well have eclipsed Manhattan as a exporter of culture, with traces of its handsewn jeans and vintage-style facial hair visible on vaguely artsy twenty-somethings in cities around the globe.
Queens, on the other, hand, is still struggling to shed its dreary outer-boroughness, its reputation as a place where secretaries come back to reasonably-priced studios at night. Despite all the enthusiastic references to fun beer halls and more reasonable rents and short commute times to Manhattan that new residents are likely to whip out, it still feels more like a compromise than a destination.
At the outset of the third week since Hurricane Sandy hit, it has become clear that normal in some corners of the city will be a long time coming. From the beginning, it was obvious that rebuilding the homes that burned in Breezy Point, or were washed away by surging sea water in Staten Island, would take many months. But now a number of other New Yorkers, who had expected power, heat and electricity to be restored in a matter of days, are still living without.
City, state and national officials are scrambling to find short- and long-term housing for the many New Yorkers displaced by the storm, begging landlords to help them identify vacant apartments, reports The New York Times.
It’s been a week since Hurricane Sandy hit, demolishing houses in Staten Island and the waterfront communities of Brooklyn and Queens. Tensions have been running high of late, with residents frustrated by the pace it’s taking to restore power to their neighborhoods—the basic necessity of life on which all other rebuilding efforts rest.
So it should come as some relief to hear that Mayor Bloomberg and the city are looking to life beyond shelters for residents whose homes are beyond easy repair (or any repair at all). Today Mr. Bloomberg announced that he has appointed Brad Gair as the director of Housing Recovery Operations.
This Old House
Is Mitt Romney really the man to solve the housing crisis? Well, consider this: Mr. Romney may not have ever struggled “to put food on the table” as folksy politicians are so fond of saying, but he has four houses. Four. So he knows a thing or two about home ownership. And, unlike some homeowners who took out mortgages and couldn’t pay them back, Mr. Romney is wealthy enough not to have to take out mortgages (although there’s a possibility that he did—the man does have the common touch, at times).
In any event, the Republican candidate has revealed his four-point plan while taking a few swings at Obama, like: “the dream of home ownership is out of reach for many Americans as a result of President Obama’s failed policies and stalled economy.”
An Arena Grows in Brooklyn
Shadow inventory. It was supposed to be the boogeyman of the real estate bust, thousands upon thousands of unsold properties scattered across the city. Bought or built for more than they were worth, people would hang onto these homes until the market improved, giving a better appearance to the housing supply than actually existed. It’s like the difference between the standard and broad rates of unemployment.
No matter. To real estate doyenne and new Brooklynite Elizabeth Stribling, there is no shadow inventory, or so she tells The Times in one of its patented 30-Minute Interviews.
Last week, The Observer looked at Bruce Ratner’s plans for a prefabricated Atlantic Yards project—whether he was serious about the project and whether he could achieve the steep 20 percent savings he claimed for the modular building process. A number of real estate professionals were skeptical on both counts, but they all pointed to the developers out-sized investment in prefab technology as an indicator of his seriousness. Now we know just how much of an investment that has been.