Mayor Bill de Blasio is racing to save New York as a reasonably affordable city to live in. It’s a hard enough job as it is, made harder by two significant obstacles — two unpredictable, hard-to-manage phenomena.
Call one of them anxiety, and the other Andrew.
“Anxiety” may be too mild a word for the feeling across the city — better call it dread — that gentrification and displacement are unstoppable forces. The mayor’s big idea is to rezone neighborhoods and require developers to include permanently affordable apartments as part of the deal. That plan, combined with strong rent regulations and tenant protections, should be enough, Mr. de Blasio argues, but many people fear that he’s wrong.
The City Council passed the mayor’s mandatory inclusionary housing plan, strongly endorsing that principle. But projects in Council members’ backyards are apparently another story: A Council committee has unanimously rejected the first development proposed under the plan, for Inwood, in Upper Manhattan. Half of its 355 apartments would have been affordable for moderate-income families. But the local councilman, Ydanis Rodriguez, opposed it, siding with constituents who feared that its rents were too high for the neighborhood and that it would hasten gentrification. The Council deferred to Mr. Rodriguez.
Which was too bad, because now the developer will be able to put up a building on the same lot with no affordable apartments. Left to itself, gentrification finds a way.
Read more: High-Rise Anxiety in New York