The lack of affordable housing in a city where rents are skyrocketing is a full-blown crisis that threatens to tear at the city’s social fabric, a panel of four local experts agreed Monday, at a discussion hosted by the Museum of the City of New York.
“We need to preserve the diversity and vitality that makes New York what it is, and I’m worried that escalating housing costs are threatening that very vitality and diversity,” said panelist Ingrid Gould Ellen, director of the Urban Planning Program at NYU Wagner.
The panel, held as part of the museum’s current exhibition on the history of the city’s Landmarks Law, was called “Preserving the Fabric of Our Neighborhoods” – though moderator Simeon Bankoff, executive director of preservation advocacy group Historic Districts Council, suggested at the outset that an alternative title could be “Surviving Our Own Success.”
Several decades ago, the conversation would have been about a fleeing populace and vacant buildings, he noted. Michelle de la Uz, executive director of Brooklyn nonprofit community organization Fifth Avenue Committee, recalled that she “started in Park Slope when there were many abandoned buildings and vacant lots. Obviously now the neighborhood is a very different place.”
The panel broke down the current picture: spiking rents, a burgeoning population that’s expected to grow further, an influx of global capital that’s helping drive prices up and, in the midst of those trends, a declining number of rent-stabilized housing units.
It makes for a “double whammy,” noted Ellen, who said 200,000 rent-stabilized units were lost between 2002 and 2011. (more…)