Category Archives: Housing

The homeless can still vote

Each election, low income and homeless individuals vote at a lower rate than people with higher incomes, despite the fact that many policy decisions directly impact people who are economically disadvantaged. In order for our government to truly represent the people, citizens must vote– especially those who are economically disadvantaged.
– via National Coalition for the Homeless

 

Problems with de Blasio’s affordable housing plan

NYC’s affordable housing ideas aren’t the only ones I worry about but here’s why this plan won’t work.

Most of the affordable housing created under these plans will be out of reach for those who need it most: the more than 950,000 city households who earn less than 50 percent of AMI, or about $39,000 for a family of three. Under the Bloomberg administration, the majority of “affordable housing” went to households earning between $80,000 and $130,000. Data shows the city has a surplus of housing for families in this income range.

With the lowest-rent option creating housing for families earning 60 percent of AMI, these apartments will not be accessible to the vast majority of people currently living in the first three neighborhoods slated for rezoning. The median household income in East New York as of 2013 was $31,986, about 41 percent of AMI. In the Jerome Avenue area of the South Bronx, it’s just $25,000, less than one-third of AMI, and East Harlem’s median was 37 percent of AMI as of 2015.

Most locales do 15 percent while the NYC plan aims for 25 percent of new developments to be affordable but what does “affordable” mean?

In Silicon Valley the poor ride a bus all night

In the movie Snowpiercer, what’s left of humanity is resigned to ride on a train with a perpetual motion engine. The world around them is inhospitable to human life so their existence is carried out on this train.

To draw a comparison to something that happens in the real world, we bare witness to the poor in Silicon Valley who are forced to ride around on a bus for the entire night.

The 22 bus is the only route that runs 24 hours in Silicon Valley and it has become something of an unofficial shelter for the homeless.

They call it Hotel 22.

This small pocket of The Golden State has become the most extreme example in the US of the growing schism between the haves and have nots.

Maybe Google or Facebook can lend out one of their luxurious coach buses to do the same thing. At least the homeless would then be able to ride in style! Thanks to gentrification and displacement fueled by the voracious appetite of the tech sector; we might be all riding on buses, maybe they’ll have Google’s self driving technology embedded in them!

Photo by Yang and Yun’s Album

Protesting Luxury Housing in NYC

It’s about time that communities demand more from real estate developers than the status quo of gentrification and the displacement that comes with it. What’s worse is when this displacement is subsidized with tax payer money.

Take a look at what’s happening in hipster-laden, gentrified Brooklyn:

“We’re here for affordable housing, good jobs, and responsible development,” Local 79 organizer Lenny Anselmo said, as about 100 people assembled in front of the 42-story Avalon Fort Greene building. “If they’re going to use taxpayers’ money, they should use union labor, and people should be able to afford to live here. I make a decent living, and I can’t afford to live in these places.

This is happening all over the country, even in Arlington, VA where I live currently. On Columbia Pike all developers like B.M. Smith seem to be building is luxury apartments. They’re about to shut down a local coffee shop so that they can raise it’s building to put yet another luxury apartment complex on its grounds.

Photo by dpstyles™

The Wall Street Tyrant’s latest move: Rental backed securities

So, you lost your house in the housing bubble crash. The banks foreclosed on you instead of trying to help you stay in your home. You thought all was lost, but guess what? Now, through the goodness of the invisible hand-job and the free market, someone maybe you, might be able to rent your house again through a private equity firm.

People like the Blackstone Group, Normandy Real Estate Partners, Vantage Properties, Westbrook Partners, and Colonial Management are vultures. Yet even before the private equity antics of the present, there was New York City.

Today, private equity firms like the Blackstone Group, now the largest owner of single-family rental homes in the nation, believe the money to be made in the housing market lies in snapping up cheap homes in the cities where housing prices crashed most spectacularly. Back in the early 2000s, in the eyes of private equity, New York City’s comparable corner of the market was “affordable housing.”

These private equity tyrants went on buying sprees and purchased buildings with rent control tenants with an agenda to flip them and turn a profit. They were banking on the idea that they could force these rent control tenants out and then hike up the rents.

Here are some of the tactics employed by the firms when they want to force people out who are unwilling.

Generally, the average turnover rate for rent-regulated apartments is close to 5% a year. Landlords whose business plan depends on tripling that figure soon find themselves orchestrating a host of harassment tactics, some of them quite illegal, to get people to move, including mailing fake eviction notices, cutting off the heat or water, and allowing vermin infestations to take hold.

The results of these efforts seem to be a mixed bag for the property owners, but for the victims of private equity there is nothing but injustice.

 

Photo by woodleywonderworks

Miss a payment and Wells Fargo will foreclose on your house

I really don’t get what Wells Fargo is doing here. A woman in New Jersey missed one payment but followed up the next month and paid the current and past amounts due, yet you want to foreclose on her property?

In 2010, Paulette McQueen, a CWA Local 1037 home child care provider and shop steward, missed one mortgage payment. The very next month she attempted to hand deliver the missed payment and the current month’s payment, but Wells Fargo refused and began to foreclose on the home, where she works as a child care provider and lives with four generations of her family, including her 86-year-old-mother, Lavinia Curry. A sheriff’s sale of the family home is now scheduled for March 25.(*)

The Richies: Google hires guards for buses because of protesters

Those rich little 1 percent programmers at Google are insanely driving up the cost of living in San Francisco it appears. If there ever were a tale of two cities, Silicon Valley could definitely be cast as the place to tell that story, just as Bill de Blasio sought to do the same for New York. San Francisco does have a notable homeless problem, which is ever more visible due to the rise in affluence of that area over the past few decades.

Now the inequality of that city is affecting he working class as rents skyrocket out of their reach. Activists are battling the tech vampire squid as displacement runs wild. 

In San Francisco, many long-time residents believe the influx of richly compensated workers at Google and other big technology companies such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc has pushed rents to unaffordable levels in neighborhoods that once were homes to the working class.

Technology companies have grown more aware of the tensions. They recently reached an agreement with the city of San Francisco governing the use of municipal bus stops. Google recently began to experiment with a privately chartered boat that can transport some of its employees living in San Francisco to its offices.

The article said that Google declined to comment which is probably a bad thing since avoiding a problem only makes it worse. If anything Google should be going to the city of San Francisco to work on programs that provide affordable housing for people thus stemming the tide of displacement. The tech companies are not so much the problem as the policies of the city government are, but if the tech companies want to be good public citizens then maybe they should think about this approach.

Ding dong DeMarco’s gone

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For years I’ve heard about Edward DeMarco and his stymieing of any housing policy that would help the 99 percent. I think President Obama was trying to have him replaced for quite some time now. The Republicans in Congress sensing DeMarco’s opposition to change probably sought to keep in in office as long as possible. This all changed when the Senate reformed the filibuster rules some weeks ago. Now Mel Watt will be taking over at the Federal Housing Finance Agency.