The party lost, but the rent is still too damn high
Nov 05, 2013 | 1558 views | 0 0 comments | 152 152 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although The Rent Is Too Damn High Party candidate Jimmy McMillan didn’t have much of a shot in the general election for mayor this year – or any other year that he has run, for that matter - his message has long been a big issue in any election, but especially for mayor.

McMillan’s very specific political party speaks for what many tenants in the city have sought for years: an affordable option for living the American Dream.

According to reports last week, the average New York City leaseholder currently pays nearly 30 percent of their annual income in rent every year. The lowest income earners are sometimes dishing out half of their annual earnings. Meanwhile, the city has seen a its rental vacancy rate hover at around just 3 percent.

On mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s first day in office next January, his number one priority should be ensuring that additional affordable housing be built to not only accommodate the lowest earners and even struggling middle class, but also the growing homeless population

The Coalition for the Homeless reports that nearly 51,000 people occupy city municipal homeless shelters every night. Over 21,000 of those are children. How do we expect these kids to excel in school when every day their living situation is up in the air?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg caught some heat after recently noting that the lack of affordable housing has actually been a “good sign.”

“It doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem, but there are no vacancies,” Bloomberg said on WOR-AM radio last month. “That will bring in investment for people to build for all income levels, different kinds of housing.”

As the first Democratic mayor since Dinkins was elected in 1990, it is time for a new focus and a new vision for the underserved people of the city.

Earlier this year, de Blasio introduced a plan as public advocate to add over 100,000 affordable housing units and preserve nearly 90,000 over the next 10 years to combat the problem.

As mayor, he should immediately build a system that would strenghten the mandate on developers to provide sufficient affordable housing through either tax incentive programs, as well as a plan to utilize the city’s pension fund to rebuild currently dilapidated housing units.

As a former regional director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration working under none other than Governeor Andrew Cuomo, de Blasio should have the experience and the connections to get this done.

It was him, after all, that pushed the message of a “Tale of Two Cities” throughout his campaign and rode it to victory. Now that he has the job, it's time write a new chapter to that tale.

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