Life in a Box
To the Editor:
I was extremely disappointed to see Our Town (“Could You Live Here?” Aug. 9) not just reporting, but essentially hyping, the downgrade or waiver of current zoning regulation minimums for rental apartments from 400 to 300 square feet for “micro units,” even if such a policy is endorsed by a billionaire mayor who couldn’t be bothered to move out of the comfort of his townhouse for Gracie Mansion, by a Department of Housing and Development which has overseen the scandalous deregulation of hundreds of thousands of apartments with thousands of backlogged cases concerning pricing and habitation violations, as well as real estate brokers and agencies who wouldn’t mind putting tenants to live in refrigerators or coffins if that could be made to seem acceptable and marketable.
Rental regulation (of both amenities and cost) has undeniably proven to be the single best, if not the only, means of preserving affordable, livable housing for New York’s middle and working classes given a pampered, enormously wealthy, politically powerful and subsidized industry that knows no limits of greed in controlling what should be a human right. Instead of caving in to permit smaller units at even higher (unregulated) prices, the mayor, the DHCR and a responsible media should require and promote affordable housing to be built as a condition for any building permits, as well as universal regulation. This would serve the public’s interest instead of that of a voracious, corporate monopoly which currently and very profitably reaps all the benefits of loopholes, tax breaks and subsidies while selling or renting on the basis of a “free” market which they, in actuality, control.
The article demonstrates that tenants will resourcefully and desperately try to make the best out of anything, but in the marketing of such a necessity of life, responsible authorities should be protecting the public interest for the good of the city, not assisting an industry to fleece its inhabitants.
If Mr. Thompson, chair of Community Board 6, says, “There is simply too much demand and not enough supply,” the answer is not diminishing the product further but demanding more and better. His enthusiastic endorsement makes me rather wonder what space Mr. Thompson enjoys.
And one last point, would Our Town please refrain from the demeaning term “renters” for tenants currently being promoted by the landlord industry until you call them “mortgagers” which is, of course, what they do, thus giving them yet another write-off.
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