Thursday, May 24, 2007

Columbia: What Housing Crisis?

We are witnessing some remarkable political movement on the issue of the availability of affordable housing in NYC. AS Azi points out today, a diverse coalition of elected officials gathered down at Stuy Town to announce the formation of a coalition on affordable housing. As CLC's Ed Ott told the group, called New York is Our Home, "'the price of housing in this city is effectively theft' and that affordable housing units, like the ones in Stuyvesant Town behind him, "are being stolen by the greed of developers and the market.'"

The new group, composed of "labor and tenant groups, The Working Families Party and others," is coming into existence on the heels of a sobering housing analysis that was done by the Community Service Society. The report, titled Closing the Door, talks about the loss of subsidized housing units to both the market and to disrepair.

As the report points out, the rapid loss of city's supply of affordable, subsidized units is well-documented, "but no level of government has yet produced a coherent policy response to it." The report goes on to say that, "This affordable housing stock provides important protections from the effects of a chronic housing shortage to low-income tenants who would be unable to afford housing in the unassisted rental market."

So we have a burgeoning coalition ready to tackle the threat to affordable housing. The question we want to raise is, what will this group do in response to the Columbia University expansion plan that, not only doesn't include a housing component and will evict low-income tenants, but will also create a gentrification aftershock that will create the market propulsion-expulsion that Ott excoriated at yesterday's press event?