Mayor Bloomberg Sees Lack of Affordable Housing As a ‘Good Sign’

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Photo: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Mayor Bloomberg has never been known for his tact, but he's really letting his out-of-touch rich guy flag fly now that his twelve-year reign is almost at its end. Back in September, he repeatedly expressed his desire to "get every billionaire around the world to move" to New York, which he believes would be "a godsend" for the city. Yesterday, on his weekly radio show, Bloomberg addressed the topic of affordable housing for New Yorkers of more modest means. "Somebody said that there’s not enough housing. That’s a good sign," he explained. "As fast as we build, more people want to live here. Doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. But there are no vacancies. And that will bring in investment for people to build at all income levels different kinds of housing."

Bloomberg went on to point out that he "gets a lot of waves" when he walks past construction sites. "Construction workers should be very happy," he added. "Developers should be very happy." Unfortunately, the places being built by the happy workers waving to the mayor are mostly not suitable for the 227,000 individuals and families waiting for New York's already occupied 178,900 public housing units.

"It is better to have the problem of a city that’s growing than a city that’s shrinking," housing advocate Benjamin Dulchin told the New York Daily News. But, "The rezoning this administration has done to encourage development is largely market-rate housing. There’s a lot of building going on, but it is not necessarily what our population needs." 

Bloomberg's Friday comments echo similarly tone-deaf observations he's made about New York's dearth of affordable housing. Last winter, he stated that "Nobody's sleeping on the streets," even though at least 3,200 people were doing just that. Meanwhile, 50,000 people were spending their nights in homeless shelters — a situation Bloomberg partially attributed to New Yorkers' reluctance to leave the shelters because the spaces have gotten so nice.

A Bloomberg spokesman "defended" his boss's conclusions by reiterating them: "Our problem here is what he said: people want to live here — so the demand is intense. Cities like Detroit or Camden, New Jersey, have plenty of low-cost housing available — not because of some commitment to affordability, but because there is no comparable demand to live in those places." So why not just sell everything off to the highest bidder?