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Thread: Public Housing in NYC

  1. #16

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    I guess my reasoning makes the assumption that people have a certain level of respect for themselves and a hope to improve their lives and that of their children.

    As far as your point of "punishing" people for saving and them kicking them out, I think the system would have to be designed to have points at which you would be faced with receiving less benefits. So for example like welfare benefits, after a certain period of time of receiving society's help then you should become ineligible. Or maybe a person would have to contribute a higher percentage of their income to their rent thereby have the state subsidies reduced. Because like you said Ninja, if not, then their is no reason not to spend and get alot of stuff you want and have society foot the bill for otherwise consumes the largest portion of most every other person's income - housing.

  2. #17
    The Dude Abides
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rapunzel View Post
    Jane Jacobs wrote so much, please post which publication you're citing.
    Actually, she was a fairly sparse writer.

    About public housing in general: I agree with those who say that subsidizing all, or a significant portion of someone's housing costs, discourages efforts at economic self-improvement. I'm not saying it'd be wise to do away with it altogether, and all at once, but there must be a better mechanism to wean dependents off of the government's hand.

    About housing costs in general: the very definition of being poor implies that you have little money for anything besides the very basics (food, shelter, clothing) and perhaps not even enough for that. I think that, for us to seriously consider how much of their income the poor should be spending on housing, we have to think of better ways to alleviate poverty itself.

  3. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    we have to think of better ways to alleviate poverty itself.
    Alleviate, v.t.: to make easier to endure

    That’s what we’ve been trying to do all these years. Welfare tries to alleviate poverty, public housing is meant to alleviate poverty.

    But neither actually alleviates poverty; each makes it worse. Talk to someone on welfare about the humiliation the program subjects them to. And as for public housing: who in his right mind thinks there’s relief in living like human refuse in a cesspool with piss in the elevator?

    In order to alleviate poverty we have to perpetuate it; otherwise there’s nothing to alleviate.

    Our goal should not be to alleviate poverty. Our goal should be to eliminate poverty.

    Before someone pipes up with “the poor ye have always”, bear in mind that in Luxembourg they have eradicated poverty completely. Everyone in that country is able to live a decent life.

    We can do it too, but we have to want to do it. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

  4. #19
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYCDOC View Post

    ... I think the system would have to be designed to have points at which you would be faced with receiving less benefits ... after a certain period of time of receiving society's help then you should become ineligible ...
    OK .. So let's say they've gone through the period of receiving less and have now reached the point where they are ineligible. They are, most likely, now homeless (because they failed to meet the mark to stay in the housing and failed to acquire housing on their own) and are hungry (for the same reasons as the "free" housing thing didn't work out). They might be living on your doorstep on in your nearest subway station. They certainly aren't being fed or housed by private charities because those are now overwhelmed with the huge numbers of the New Needy.

    So, what do we as a society do with the tired, poor, huddled masses NOW?

  5. #20

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    Well, your arguement basically makes the assumption that the people living in public housing really are useless and incapable. What I am saying is that I think that these people are very capable to go out, work hard and earn ENOUGH to make ends meet. But the system doesn't ask it of them and therefore discourages them from doing so.

    Even though I disagree with your broad statement that this population will end up homeless and hungry, I do agree that this would happen to some people, because while I do think most are capable of working there are people burdened with many issues that will lead them to break under the weight of heavy responsibility. This then falls into the realm of physical disabilities, psychiatric problems, and a range of other issues that are fixed through different means rather than checks for supporting housing.

  6. #21
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    So tell us how to do it ^^^

    You clearly think that there is some brilliant way to get us out of this mess. So what's the plan?

  7. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    So tell us how to do it ^^^

    You clearly think that there is some brilliant way to get us out of this mess. So what's the plan?
    More obvious than brilliant:

    Income redistribution through a progressive income tax, steeply graduated at the top
    Universal health care through a government plan
    Double teacher salaries
    Double the minimum wage
    Stop wasting our tax money and manpower on losing wars
    One year’s mandatory public service for all upon completion of their education (high school, college or graduate school)

    Bet you can think of others.

  8. #23
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    ^ I bet a lot of folks in public housing would make the trade for the ablarc plan. Would you, nycdoc and kliq?

  9. #24
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    I'd also add

    Bonuses for teachers in poor school districts.

    Right now it's the opposite -- on nearly every level, teachers are rewarded for moving elsewhere, to better-funded, nicer, safer schools. The resulting brain drain absolutely perpetuates poverty.

  10. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    More obvious than brilliant:
    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post



    Income redistribution through a progressive income tax, steeply graduated at the top



    *** You'll rapidly lose most talent-intensive industries. It was tried in Britain and Sweden, among others. Not good results.



    Universal health care through a government plan



    *** Basically all euro countries have this. Still poor people, though. Hmmm.



    Double teacher salaries



    *** Teachers are not poor except by historically absurd or relativistic measures



    Double the minimum wage



    *** Beyond a very (VERY) low floor, the minimum wage decreases employment.



    Stop wasting our tax money and manpower on losing wars



    *** OK. You got that one.



    One year’s mandatory public service for all upon completion of their education (high school, college or graduate school)



    *** Been there, done that, got the (olive drab) t-shirt. Compulsive manpower always and everywhere = disgustingly wasted manpower / make-work / etc. The 'lump hypothesis' of labor does not attain except in rare exceptions.



    Bet you can think of others.



    Yup. Increase median productivity (another whole book there).



    That won't eliminate poverty, though. In modern economies poverty (as in lack of access to basic housing, health care, food and personal possessions) is almost always the result of very poor, repeated personal choices that are difficult to eradicate completely even with unthinkable levels of compulsion.



    Now, if you want to eliminate low(ish) relative income, good luck.
    Next!

  11. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by NYCDOC View Post
    Well, your arguement basically makes the assumption that the people living in public housing really are useless and incapable. What I am saying is that I think that these people are very capable to go out, work hard and earn ENOUGH to make ends meet. But the system doesn't ask it of them and therefore discourages them from doing so.
    I'm really alarmed by the assumption that an individual's lack of finances equals a useless and incapable person. NYCDOC, you yourself just posted that you can't afford school and are looking to transfer to a community college. Given the downward shift, are we to assume that you and your family are lazy bums who just can't earn ENOUGH to make ends meet?

    I'd hope not, but you seem to enjoy passing judgment on the less fortunate.

  12. #27
    King Omega XVI OmegaNYC's Avatar
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    go get 'em tiger!! ^^^

  13. #28
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    The New York Sun has a controversial idea...


    Paupers to Millionaires


    New York Sun Editorial
    May 15, 2007

    The Manhattan landscape is being dynamically transformed by private developers. New residential towers are rising on the Upper East and West sides and downtown. The one exception is in the city's public housing projects, which look much as they did when they were built generations ago. Even the residents are pretty much the same — the New York City Housing Authority says the turnover rate in calendar year 2006 for its conventional public housing apartments was 3.62%, and one study showed that the average stay in public housing for a family is 17.7 years.

    The New York Sun has long advocated selling off these buildings and the land they sit on to private owners. In an August 8, 2002, column in the Sun, J.P. Avlon had suggested opening up to private development some of the waterfront property along the East River between the Brooklyn Bridge and Houston Street that is now occupied by housing projects. And a December 13, 2002, editorial took a broader view, still.

    "Across the country," we said, "far-sighted political leaders are destroying public housing projects. From the Pruitt-Igoe projects in 1972 in St. Louis, to the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago in 1998, to the New Brunswick Homes destroyed in New Jersey in August 2001, to the Christopher Columbus Homes in Newark in 1996 ... , the failed vision of governmentrun housing projects is being demolished in a puff of concrete dust. Everywhere, that is, but here in New York City, where instead of getting the city out of the housing business, Mayor Bloomberg wants to build more units."

    Our 2002 suggestions went nowhere, though Prime Minister Thatcher helped ignite the British economy by selling "council flats." So we are now willing to revise our proposals. Never mind selling the public housing projects in Manhattan, or even in some of the more choice areas of Queens and Brooklyn. Why not just give the apartments away to the tenants who live there — and instantly make hundreds of thousands of poor New Yorkers into wealthy ones?

    Given the low turnover, the long average stay, and the lack of the political will to sell the buildings, these tenants for all practical purposes own the apartments already. But they can't turn the value of a below-market-rate New York City apartment into capital that they can invest in starting a business, leave to their children, or use to buy a comfortable home elsewhere.

    As our 2002 editorial noted, many of these housing projects are in prime neighborhoods, where nearby apartments are selling for millions of dollars. They are on East 28th Street, Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue, near Central Park West. Those along the East River in Manhattan feature the same views enjoyed by those in apartments Tishman Speyer is now renting in Stuyvesant Town starting at $3,675 for a two bedroom and $4,625 for a three-bedroom and by those in condominiums Donald Trump is selling at his World Tower for $10 million each.

    What would public housing tenants do if given title to their units? They'd sell in a twinkling. It'd be like winning the lottery. The new owners would be free to improve the interiors of the units. And, unlike the current residents, they'd pay property taxes rather than consuming taxpayer subsidies.

    Objections to this idea can be expected from two directions. Some will argue that it is too generous to the poor: What did a public housing resident do to deserve a $1 million giveaway? The answer to that objection is that there already is a $1 million giveaway to public housing tenants. The average monthly rent in a public housing project is $336. Compare that to the market-rate Stuyvesant Town rents, and the value of the subsidy to a publichousing tenant is an annual $48,000. Multiply that times the average stay of 17.7 years, and you are already talking about an $850,000 subsidy for each tenant family.

    And that is assuming that Manhattan free-market rents won't grow faster than public housing rents, a questionable assumption. Taxpayers would get back tens of millions of dollars, maybe even hundreds of millions of dollars, in new tax revenues that could help lighten the burden that the city's existing taxpayers already bear. When public housing tenants sold, they'd pay the city and state real estate transfer taxes, and perhaps even capital gains taxes. Their real estate brokers would pay income tax on their commissions. The new owners would pay property taxes, and the craftsmen who renovate the kitchens and bathrooms in their apartments would pay income taxes.

    Another objection can be expected from left-wingers who view it as a plot to get the poor out of New York, or out of Manhattan, or to reduce the amount of "affordable" housing in the city. Not so. Public housing tenants who chose not to sell their newly owned apartments would have every right to stay. If politicians wanted to, they could even use some of the tax revenue windfall from the sales to build more supportive housing elsewhere in the city for the elderly, the disabled, or the mentally ill, or to pay for vouchers for the poor that could be used to pay for market-rate housing. Or for down-payment assistance to create more new homeowners. That would direct housing assistance to those who really need it most, rather than those who make it through the years-long waiting list for a spot in a choice Manhattan housing project. It doesn't help those on the waiting list to keep the tenant population in the housing projects stagnant. And it's paternalistic for "advocates" of the poor to try to force a tenant to stay in Manhattan when the tenant himself would prefer to take the proceeds of his sale and move from Manhattan to a middle class suburb in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, where the cost of living is cheaper.

    ***

    The idea of giving away these apartments isn't all that different from the land reform attempts led by the famous Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto. Mr. de Soto has focused on the developing world, but it may be that the plight of those in housing projects within America is similar to that of South American sharecroppers who lack formal title to their lands. The tenants of housing projects have assets — the right to a below-market rate apartment — but they lack capital that they can save, invest, or pass on to heirs. As the Web site of Mr. de Soto's Institute for Liberty and Democracy puts it, "the legal property system is in fact the hidden architecture that organizes the market in every Western nation — and the missing link for ensuring the rise of widespread legal entrepreneurship in every developing nation."

    What most attracts us to this plan, though, is not strictly how it looks from the perspective of the well-to-do — a chance to lessen the tax burden — or how it looks to the poor — a chance to get rich. It is that it offers a chance to lessen the divide between rich and poor by transforming a whole class — about 200,000 residents of public housing in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens — from recipients of a government subsidy into self-sufficient middle-class Americans. And that it offers a chance to reclaim hundreds of buildings of housing projects on hundreds of acres of prime real estate in the city, land now locked in stagnation, that could be integrated with the surrounding neighborhoods and become part of the cycle of dynamism and improvement and transformation and building that makes New York City today such an exciting and vibrant place.


    © 2007 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.

  14. #29
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    More New York Sun Opinions...


    Sell the Buildings, Too


    BY HOWARD HUSOCK
    June 5, 2007

    New York City Housing Authority 's announcement that it would start to sell vacant land within the boundaries of its housing projects appears to signal the start of a new era in the city. It is, after all, an unprecedented step: historically, the Authority has been in the business of taking land — not selling it, and certainly not to private buyers, as planned.

    But it's not clear whether or not the sale of parking and vacant lots in Chelsea and East New York in order to raise $50 million is anything more than a stop-gap to allow the creaky NYCHA machine to keep going for a while. Instead, it should be the start of a wholesale re-examination of the financially troubled public housing system.

    For those who complain that New York lacks "affordable housing," it's important to understand that the city has more subsidized housing of all kinds — especially public housing owned by NYCHA — than any other city in the country, both in total numbers and per capita.

    New York's 178,000 public housing units far outstrips that of runner-ups San Juan, which has 57,000 units, or Chicago which once had nearly 40,000 units but, after demolishing many of its most infamous high-rises, plans on retaining just 25,000.

    NYCHA is a city-within-a-city in Gotham: there are more than 400,000 people who live in NYCHA-owned properties. This number is greater than the population of any city in the rest of the state — Buffalo's population is less than 300,000.

    Yet NYCHA's real estate has been essentially frozen. As the city's economy changes and neighborhoods change with it, public housing stands apart. The Ingersoll Houses in Brooklyn, for instance, were built for the shipyard workers of the Brooklyn Navy Yard — itself long gone and replaced by an industrial park with dozens of innovative small businesses.

    That's not all that's changed. Originally, public housing was meant to be financially self-supporting. Government would finance construction — but working families would pay rents sufficient to maintain the buildings. It was thought that many would move up and out, as well.

    Today, more than 40% of NYCHA households have been in their apartments for more than 10 years and fewer than half of NYCHA household heads are employed, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's data. The rent rolls aren't nearly sufficient to cover the cost of maintaining aging structures.

    The result is a financial crisis — a $225 million budget shortfall appears to have motivated the first-ever land sell-off. The benefits of 6,000 new apartments to be built on the land should not be minimized. But the larger problem of the "frozen city" is far more important in the long term.

    The total real estate footprint of New York's public housing projects is equivalent to the size of some 156 World Trade Center sites. The city can ill afford to declare so many sites in so many neighborhoods to be off limits to change.

    Cities thrive, in part, by allowing their real estate to be put to its highest and best use. In doing so, jobs and wealth are created — for all social classes, not just the rich. Setting aside land for those who earn low incomes is a deeply pessimistic policy — one that assumes there will always be a need for thousands of units of such housing.

    Not only does such a system tie up a great deal of land with none of it on the property tax rolls, but also it requires a sprawling administrative and operational structure to keep it going, funded by a tax base depressed by the extent of public housing. Worse, it encourages continued poverty — by providing low-priced housing to the single-parent, female-headed families who dominate it — more than 70%, nationally.

    It makes sense for the city to exit the public housing business in a gradual, humane manner. Selling off land could be a first step in that process. But it would be far better to start selling off whole buildings. The proceeds of the sales of buildings in hot real estate markets would do far more to help fund the existing system.

    How to do it? As units become vacant, tenants from other buildings can move in. It is not unreasonable to pressure tenants, perhaps by raising the rent, to exit the system. This is the sort of turnover that happens in all neighborhoods;
    aging residents, faced with a decision as to whether it's worth paying taxes on a big house, for instance, choose to make a move. NYCHA reports that more than 39,000 of its apartment units are what it calls "underoccupied units," where the family size is less than the number of bedrooms. This newspaper's suggestion of allowing public housing tenants to be given property rights to their apartments, which could then be sold, can help provide the incentive for movers.

    The big picture is this: The public housing financial crisis is chronic, not passing. It is best solved not through a minor change akin to Lenin's New Economic Policy, his brief flirtation with capitalism before a return to socialism. Instead, there must be a consolidation of the system in order to allow a gradual sell-off of property. Doing so will help spark real estate revitalization from Brooklyn to East Harlem to the South Bronx — and ultimately benefit all New Yorkers.


    © 2007 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.

  15. #30
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Maybe they should do a 75/25 split (tenant and city) where these $1M places would earn them $750K up front, minus an up front, in total taxation of a few percentage (avoid "income" taxes and the like).

    If these families could get $600K right off the bat for their place, many could move away to otehr areas and live off of that for quite some time.

    The only thing I fear is simple. Even people WITH money do not know how to spend it. What happens to someone who never had any and is now handed $600K? Well, first the vultures come in, but besides that, new money is just that.

    Look at how many people who have won the lottery that overspent and ended up in financial trouble from questionable investments, purchases and partnerships.

    I think the idea is good, but shoveling cash around is NEVER a good solution.

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