By Heidi Burkhart, president, Dane Professional Consulting Group
In the last few months, housing and community advocates have started a targeted campaign against Alicia Glen, deputy mayor in charge of housing and economic development. As part of their campaign, these advocates have been asking the city, and Glen in particular, to redirect funds toward building new housing focused on the poorest New Yorkers. Through these efforts, they are hoping to drive back gentrification and, ultimately, help reduce homelessness.
While the lack of affordable low-income housing options is a problem, it is not the only affordable housing issue facing our city. Almost no attention has been given to the lack of affordable housing options for middle- to moderate-income individuals and families that are barely scraping by, oftentimes only one paycheck away from being considered homeless.[i] It is clear that New Yorkers, like other citizens across the country, are struggling to cover essential expenses. With what money New Yorkers do have, the majority is spent on rent. According to a recent report by StreetEasy, the typical household that rents in New York City was expected to spend 65.2 percent — or nearly two-thirds — of its income on rent in 2016. That’s up from 59.7 percent in 2015.[ii]
By attacking Glen for bringing her “Goldman Sachs style” of development to City Hall, these advocate groups are failing to highlight that de Blasio’s 10-year housing plan is on track to create 200,000 units of new housing for low- to moderate-income residents across New York City. What’s more, by continuing to attack Glen and garner anti-Wall Street support, these groups are failing to mention Glen’s successful track record at Goldman Sachs, where she led the firm’s urban investment group, financing affordable housing and other projects.
In order to allow our workforce to move forward, and not backward, it is imperative to provide them with more opportunities, support and services. Therefore, we need the city to continue creating new housing initiatives to support affordable housing for all income levels, including individuals who are homeless, low-income, moderate-income and middle-income. This is exactly what Alicia Glen is pushing to do, despite major opposition, and I applaud her.