Thursday, May 10, 2007

Please tell the Times: there're plenty of affordable rentals out here

Not surprisingly, this Times story about younguns being forced to live in tents and in office buildings is getting lots of attention; on a day with no shortage of real-world news, it's the third-most emailed article on the Times's site.

Those poor little dears: there's 29-year-old Nina Rubin, who "struggled to find halfway decent housing in New York" before moving in to the Long Island City offices of Outward Bound, where she slept on a bunk bed, surrounded by cohorts bedding down in cubicles or on tents on the roof. And Kate Harvey, who joined eight of her friends and shacked up in an office building. (The space was owned by a company that her dad happened to run.)

There are two things wrong with this story. 1. The Times didn't bother to do any actual reporting into what it would actually cost someone to rent an apartment within, say, a half-hour of Union Square, and 2. Their cherry-picked "sources" are either stupid or aren't looking for affordable housing so much as they're looking for free housing...cuz there's still plenty out there that's available for the picking.

Like (and who among you didn't see this coming) a bunch of these offerings in PLG. It's hard to tell exactly what the situation is with these two Lincoln Road apartments, both of which are listed with The Real Estate Group: the pictures on the Times are identical, but one is listed as a 2000-sq ft 2 br for $3200 and the other is a 950-sq ft 2 br for $1950. Whatever the case, these look like pretty good deals: it's a big open space, there's a roofdeck, and a washer-dryer; the bigger of the two apartments is advertised as having new hardwood floors and 14-ft ceilings.

Citi Habitats also has a couple of two bedrooms listed at $2400 and $2100; there's this 3-br on Rutland that's listed at $1,600, and perhaps most enticingly, a $1050, 1-br rent stabilized apartment on Fenimore and Rogers.

I'm sure none of these apartments are as nice as they look, but they'd have to be a helluva lot worse not to be attractive at some of these prices...especially for someone camped out in their dad's office. Eight years ago I felt blessed to find a run-down, 1-BR on Atlantic Ave between 3rd and 4th Ave for $1100. Atlantic Ave was not fun seven years ago. And my apartment was not a couple of blocks from the park.

In its effort to prove that those among us who aren't I-bankers or trust-fund babies are being squeezed out of the city, the Times writes how "the rents for one-bedroom apartments in Manhattan average $2,567 a month, and two-bedrooms average $3,854 a month. ... Because landlords typically require renters to earn 40 times their monthly rent in annual income, renters of those average apartments would need to earn at least $102,680, individually or combined, to qualify for a one-bedroom and $154,160 to afford a two-bedroom." I've never lived anyplace where a landlord insisted I make 40-times my monthly rent; I usually set aside 35-percent of my salary. If you go by my figures, someone making $35,000 could afford a one-bedroom in PLG; three friends all making $27,000 could live in one of the $2000/mo two-bedrooms.

But the real question here isn't why the Times story doesn't present the whole story; that happens all too often. The real question is...why are these apartments sitting vacant? Complaints about services, or Flatbush, don't cut it with me; for $1,000 a month in NYC, you're going to need to make sacrifices no matter where you're living. And there's nowhere else where you'd be be so close to an express train and so close to the park. So what gives?

16 comments:

Barbara said...

As a real estate agent who deals with these young people on a regular basis all I can say is that most recent grads have an exceptional sense of entitlement and what constitutes an acceptable standard of living, primarily due to the ever-more-luxurious accommodations offered by college dormitories. Additionally, to many people from outside of NYC, anything outside of Manhattan is inconceivable, even if it means sleeping in an office, and if it has to be Brooklyn, it's Park Slope or nothing -- I love the girl in the story who says they'll have to expand their definition of Park Slope! Yeah, like to Bay Ridge!

I have rented several apartments in PLG, and it's a rare renter who doesn't come to the neighborhood and tell me how it feels "unsafe" -- most won't even come out here.

I have stopped pushing this neighborhood, where I live and that I love, because I am tired of the implicit racism and elitism on the part of most of these young people -- too bad for them, and so much the better for the intelligent people out there, who can get some great bargains!

Ed said...

I disagree with your assessment. It's the folks at the New York Times and the middle-aged crowd that have a negative bias of the neighborhood. The young people who are "in the know" tend to be thrilled with the bargains found in this neighborhood.

But let's not be unrealistic here -PLG needs to clean up its act in certain respects. Flatbush is dirty, and there are a number of loud, uneducated, tacky people that anyone with a modicum class would prefer to avoid. It's not necessarily a race thing. In fact, this neighborhood has plenty of classy people of all colors.

Barbara said...

Sorry, Ed, most young people I come across (and this is my job, and I deal with these people on a daily basis) do not seem to be "in the know" in this respect -- I agree, any intelligent renter would be thrilled with the deals to be had here (and with many features of this neighborhood), yet many others prefer to live in an illegal, bedbug-infested loft in an industrial zone in Bushwick, because it's "cooler" to be on the L train -- even if it is at the Wycoff Ave. stop!

Ed said...

Actually, Barbara, I don't think we're disagreeing entirely. To me, the notion that recent grads overwhelmingly prefer Manhattan and can't imagine living anywhere in Brooklyn besides Park Slope is a class-based, media-driven faux reality. We both know that many young people are savvy enough to prefer cheap accomodations elsewhere, including PLG. I think the issue may be why these young ones prefer run-down loft districts in Bushwick to PLG.

Barbara said...

Class-based and media-driven -- what isn't in this society? Here's the reality -- for whatever reason: I work for a very large real state firm, targeting rentals and young people in particular. At this time of year, especially, we are inundated with customers, primarily recent college grads. Of every 20 leads we get, 15 will want to live in Manhttan, below 96th St, 2 will consider Manhattan above 96th St., and the remaining three will entertain the notion of Brooklyn, either Park Slope or Williamsburg -- when they realize they can't afford either of those, it's off to Craigslist they go, where they pick up on places in "East Williamsburg" that are actually Bushwick or northern Bed Stuy, or "South Park Slope" that are actually Sunset Park. But hey, at least you can say you live in a neighborhood that your friends may have heard of.

So did this reality start out as a media creation or did the media just pick up on something that was already there, causing its inevitable expansion? And I agree -- only those people too intelligent to be caught up in this class-based concept of an acceptable neighborhood will come here -- and that is just fine with me! The question of why certain nasty areas with vitually nothing to recommend them are preferred to our lovely neighborhood, with all its geographic and demongraphic advantages reamins unanswered.

Jevon said...

Umm Ed, I hate to break it to you, but there are "number of loud, uneducated, tacky people" In most "working-class" and "Up and Comming" neighborhoods in NYC. Flabush is in the nascent stages of gentrification. Give it a few more years and you'll have your wish my friend. And I'm sure "It's not necessarily a race thing", I'm quite sure it isn't... LOL Classic.

Ed said...

But Jevon, I already share your same viewpoint. There are low class people everywhere.

Jevon said...

Wonderful Ed! Glad we're on the same page.

Screw This Job said...

I would contribute to this blog, but the fact that you won't allow people to post anonymously is a huge turn off. Any chance of relaxing this policy?

Planet PLG said...

There are no plans to allow for anonymous comments. As far as I can tell, it doesn't add to the conversation at all; it does, on the other hand, seem to give people a sense that they can be nastier than they might normally be. But we'll see how things evolve as we move forward...

Jevon said...

Anonymous comments are for sissies. Own your words! Kudos to this Anonymous comment free-zone!

Ed said...

Use of the words "sissy," "bitch," and "nigga" are offensive. Would you mind rephrasing that?

Jevon said...

Ahh Hah hah! PC police patrol this neighborhood eh? Lighten up Ed. Don't evvvven wanna go there wit u.

Planet PLG said...

Ed, Jevon -- I'm gonna cut off comments on this one, or at least this specific back and forth...not because both of your input isn't appreciated, but because I get the sense this one is just going back and forth.

Jevon said...

Good Call boss. I really wasn't tryna go there.

Ed said...

Jevon, this is not an issue of political correctness. It's an issue of respect. Please think twice before you use language which is traditionally used to demean a specific minority group.