Home Is Where the Heart Is

There is no greater indication of how New Yorkers are feeling about their city’s long-term prospects than where they choose to put their money. A new analysis of census figures shows that we are feeling very good indeed about the future of New York.

Simply put, we are moving from being a city of renters to a city of homeowners. One in three New York households—33.2 percent—now own their own home, be it a house or a co-op or condo. The increase in homeownership from 2000 to 2005 was greater than in the entire decade of the 1990’s. It’s clear that New Yorkers are no longer seeing the city as a place to make a pile of cash and then abscond to the suburbs to invest their wealth.

What’s most notable about the new figures is that they are not bunched toward the high end of the earning spectrum. Instead, the surge in home ownership was spread among all income and racial groups, with some of the most striking increases coming in the poorest neighborhoods, such as Washington Heights, the South Bronx, Central Harlem and Brownsville, Brooklyn, all of which showed a stunning 70-plus percent increase in homeownership since 1990. And homeowners in those areas are more than a little bullish on their new real-estate investments: They are putting a high percentage of their income—about one-third—toward their monthly housing costs, compared with Manhattan homeowners, who spend about one-fifth of their income. Another trend: Women are behind much of the rise. In 1990, they represented 34 percent of homeowners. By 2005, that number had risen to 47 percent.

New Yorkers are voting with their dollars and their feet when they purchase a home in the city. This is a genuine reflection of the remarkable opportunities generated by smart leadership in City Hall, as more and more of our neighborhoods meet the social and cultural needs of parents, children, the aged and the wide range of ethnic groups.

The turnaround in New York is a product of many forces, but one must credit the policies of Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg for making this the safest large city in the nation. Mr. Bloomberg’s current mission to revamp the public schools is also helping raise the comfort level. Credit is also due, of course, to the grit and spirit of New Yorkers, who never give up on their city, because they understand there is no other place like it.

Home Is Where the Heart Is