Posted: February 11, 2013
If there were one lesson our mayoral aspirants would do well to learn, it’s this: The reason basics in New York are so much more expensive than they should be — e.g., rent, real estate, education — is because our politicians are limiting supply.
The less supply the city has, the less affordable this city becomes.
That’s especially worth remembering when politicians prattle on about “affordability.” A perfect example: the opposition to a promising move by Mayor Bloomberg to open more city land for housing.
The plan is simple: Lease city land to developers to build luxury apartments, set aside 20 percent for families making less than $50,000, then use the revenues to pay for badly needed repairs for public housing.
Makes sense, right? In the land of common sense it does — but not in New York politics. Already, three likely candidates for mayor — Chris Quinn, Bill Thompson and John Liu — are attacking it. Posing as champions of the people, they claim the city should be building more affordable units, and fixing the ones New York has.
What’s notable is what they don’t say: how to pay for it. The city doesn’t have the cash, and good luck getting it from Washington.
Bloomberg understands this. He understands too that this city desperately needs more housing. Even adding luxury housing helps, because the more units on the market, the more prices go down — and folks have more chances to move up.
In an ideal world, Bloomberg would be selling the city’s land entirely and getting the government out of the housing business. That would include ending subsidies exploited by the rich (e.g., rent control) as well as giving the poor more opportunities to afford private apartments, rather than packing them off to public housing.
Still, the mayor deserves kudos for a plan that represents a huge step forward over the status quo. As for the hapless mayoral wannabes attacking it, a big Bronx cheer — and a free copy of the collected works of Milton Friedman.
Source: New York Post