A Night in the Dumpster

 

Is this the future for micro-units in New York City? 

– Jack Freund

 

 

Anne Kadet Spends Some Time in Artist Gregory Kloehn’s Creation

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Artist Gregory Kloehn on the roof deck and inside his converted dumpster at Pioneer Works in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Source: Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal

 

By Anne Kadet

I’m writing this column from inside the dumpster I slept in last night. It’s a little stuffy, but not as cramped as you might expect. And it’s peaceful. No upstairs neighbors tromping overhead. Just the occasional truck rumbling by.

No, this isn’t my personal dumpster. It belongs to an Oakland artist named Gregory Kloehn. When he stays in New York, Mr. Kloehn lives here, in a 6-by-6-foot metal garbage bin parked on an art center’s fenced-in lot in Red Hook.

Perhaps you’ve seen a bit of Mr. Kloehn’s home already—videos of his charming dumpster were all over the Internet these past weeks. He has his $1,000 trash can tricked out with a bed, toilet, sink, granite counter, hardwood floors, lights and a single-burner stove. The metal roof cranks up to reveal two windows.

As soon as I heard about the dumpster, I called to suggest a home swap. Could I spend the night in his garbage bin while he stayed at my place in Cobble Hill? “Well, sure!” said Mr. Kloehn. He even offered to haul his dumpster home to a more desirable location. Would I like to spend the night on the waterfront? In Central Park?

Here’s Why Your Rent Is So Ridiculously High (Rent Control)

With the average asking rent rising over $3,000, New Yorkers continue to wonder “Why is the rent so high?”. Business Insider Writer Josh Barro detailed several key reasons in an article titled “The 8 Reasons WHY New York Rents Are So Ridiculously High” to offer insight into the rising cost.  He attributes factors such as limited space, high property taxes,  and high constructions costs. Interestingly enough, #3 on his list is “Rent Control”.  Here is an excerpt:

 

 

3. Rent stabilisation raises your rent if you’re not rent stabilised. While the average rent for available apartments in New York City is now over $3,000, the U.S. Census Bureau says renters in New York City were only paying a median of $1,125 in 2011. What gives?

The answer is, there are lots of cheap apartments in New York. You just can’t get one of them, because they’re rent stabilised, and tenants with great rent stabilised deals cling to their apartments until they die.

The Cato Institute produced some great charts on this back in 1997, but the same dynamics still hold in the market today. In cities without rent control, rents for available apartments form a normal distribution around the Census median rent. Here’s a chart of Philadelphia rents in 1997:

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If You Live in New York and You Rent, You’re Paying a Huge Tax You Don’t Even Know About

By Business Insider

If you live in New York City, you probably know that your income taxes are high. A combined city and state tax rate of 10.4% kicks in at just $22,000 of taxable income for a single person.

You probably don’t know that New York City has some of the country’s highest taxes on apartment buildings—and if you’re not subject to rent control, much of that cost is flowing through to you as a renter.

Not all property taxes are high here: New York actually has very low taxes on owner-occupied homes. Our property tax system is a perverse cross-subsidy from relatively poor renters to relatively rich homeowners.

If we just taxed all property at the same rate, apartment building taxes would fall by $1,000 to $1,500 per unit.

Here are a few charts that show just how bizarre New York’s tax system is, and how renters are getting screwed.

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Why the Rent Is So High in New York

By CATHERINE RAMPELL

In a magazine piece this week (and accompanying blog post), I talked about why many of the goods and services that high-income people consume are cheaper in New York — because it has such a large concentration of high-income people. I also mentioned that the big, glaring exception to this is housing, which is expensive for rich people as well as poor people.

So why is housing so expensive here, and getting even more so?

There are a few reasons. One is that New York has become a much more attractive place to live and work over the last few decades as crime has fallen and other amenities have improved. So demand for apartments here is up — and not just among people who live here full time.

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Rent and the Single Girl

 

 

Posted: March 07, 2013

 

First came Helen Gurley Brown’s “Sex and the Single Girl.”

Then there was Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City.”

Now, we have Hannah Horvath on HBO’s “Girls.”

When will someone get around to what single women in New York really obsess about: a nice apartment in a decent neighborhood at an affordable price?

Today, more than 725,000 never-married women between the ages of 20 and 34 call Gotham home. Many have come here because they believe New York is the place to be. Especially for those just starting out, many quickly learn that life in the big city can mean sharing an East Bushwick apartment with three strangers because it’s the only place you can afford.

If New York’s high prices simply reflected the true market value, that would be one thing. After all, people have been finding roommates to split the rent for years. But the truth is that the young and unestablished are paying more than they should for their apartments, because the rental market and rental prices are being distorted by rent-control and rent-stabilization policies.

Rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments are a sweet deal for those who are in on it — mostly older and more established residents. So the wealthy retiree has every reason to cling to his rent-stabilized pad on Central Park South forever. Meanwhile, the young, the new arrivals and often the less-wealthy are out of luck.

Lena Dunham in “Girls”

These people pay in two ways: First, they have fewer apartments to choose from, because rent control and rent stabilization effectively take a million apartments off the market. According to the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, that’s nearly half the total rentals.

Second, the price of artificially lower rents in the regulated sector becomes artificially higher rents in the unregulated sector.

It’s not just single New York women, of course. It’s anyone looking for a place to live here. And so we have a familiar tale: laws promoted as helping average folk actually hurting them.

That’s worth keeping in mind as mayoral candidate after mayoral candidate prattles on about “affordable housing.” Almost always their answer is more of the same interference from government that has created this problem in the first place.

So as HBO gets ready for the Season 2 finale of “Girls,” we’re hoping someone might consider a series showing why, for so many women here, finding a decent, affordable apartment is more difficult than finding a faithful, self-supporting boyfriend.

 

Source: New York Post

Here’s a shocker: New Yorkers Unfazed by High Rents!

Rent too damn high? New Yorkers don’t care

A surprising new survey has revealed that New Yorkers are unfazed by the city’s sky-high rents.

While the rest of the country’s apartment dwellers cite rent is the number one factor in deciding what and where to rent, residents of the Big Apple rank it just seventh in the survey by Rose Associates, the New York-based real estate firm.

Throughout the year, Rose works with research group Kingsley Associates to track the satisfaction of residents living in their buildings and to track a number of performance metrics. Rose then compares the findings to the Kingsley Index, which is based on surveys at over a million apartment units in the U.S.

“While we do this survey to ensure we’re providing the best service possible to our residents, it’s sometimes fun to look at the secondary data that’s gathered,” said J. Brian Peters, chief operating officer of Rose.

“In a city where the average one bedroom apartment rents for north of $3400 a month, it is interesting to learn that rental rate is not the renter’s chief concern.”

Other findings uncovered by the survey:

• New Yorkers are three times more concerned with an apartment’s floorplan than their national counterparts.

• The quality of property management is more than twice as important to New Yorkers as it is to renters outside of New York.

• When asked for the strongest factor when deciding to renew or not renew a lease, 67% of New Yorkers cited location of a building and just 26% cited the cost of renting in a building.

• New York renters especially value apartment features and finishes — these attributes are 10% more important to New Yorkers than their national counterparts.

• New Yorkers don’t like to move; the bother is more of an issue than the rent they pay.

Rose has been conducting its surveys since 2007. So far this year,  8,000 have been given to residents in Rose-managed properties.

For the first time, Rose is also surveying tenants in buildings it manages in Brooklyn and Westchester County, areas where the company is increasing its activities.

 

Source: Real Estate Weekly

Why There is an Affordable Housing Problem In NYC

A recent analysis by the City’s Independent Budget Office found that 35 percent of City tax filers (or 1.3 million households) paid no income tax in 2010. Filers who did not pay income taxes reported an average income of $9,108.

With an average income of $9,108 annually, this one-third of City  households can afford a monthly rent of only $228 per month based on the Federal affordability standard of paying only 30% of income for rent. Clearly, there are no apartments available, other than subsidized housing and a few rent regulated at less than subsidence level, that rent at less than $228 per month.

So, is this a problem of lack of affordable housing, or a problem of lack of income adequate to afford even a moderately priced rental in New York City?

 

                                                    – Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association 

(Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the RSA.)

 

 

 

The 47 Percent Here? Far Fewer Escape City’s Income Tax

By SAM ROBERTS and PATRICK MCGEEHAN

 

In New York City, the “47 percent” is only 35 percent.

That’s the share of city tax filers who, according to an analysis by the city’s Independent Budget Office released Thursday, paid no city income tax in 2010 — as opposed to the 47 percent of Americans that Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, said depend on government handouts, pay no federal income taxes and will vote for President Obama.

Most of the 1.3 million New York households that filed returns but paid no tax — 67 percent of them — reported income below the threshold for owing city income tax. Another 28 percent of them would have owed taxes if they had not received tax credits. The remaining 5 percent reported negative income as a result of investment or business losses (their income, before losses, averaged $43,100).

Over all, the 35 percent of filers who did not pay city income tax reported an average income of $9,108.

Filers who owed taxes reported average income of about $100,000 (and paid an average of $2,925 in city tax).

Among those who did not pay, fully half said they had earned wages from full or part-time jobs, but not enough to make them liable for income tax.

“A significant share of these people are in the labor force and working, but they are not paying taxes because even though they are working, they didn’t have a lot of income,” said George Sweeting, deputy director of the Independent Budget Office.

 

Source: City Room

High rents hitting middle-class New Yorkers

“Here’s a new twist on the affordability scale: middle-income renters have greater affordable housing issues than low-income renters! Tell that to the low-income housing advocates. I guess the affordability issue doesn’t die until everyone gets a subsidy. “ 

              – Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association 

(Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the RSA.)

 

High rents hitting middle-class New Yorkers

Families in the middle squeezed the most over the last decade, according to a new study.

By Tania Karas

Skyrocketing rents are increasingly squeezing middle-class New Yorkers, according to a report released Wednesday by City Comptroller John Liu.

The report shows that almost half of city households spend more than 30% of their income on rent, compared with 26% of households nationally. Federal benchmarks deem rent unaffordable when it exceeds 30% of household income.

Middle-income renters, defined as those earning between $35,000 and $75,000 annually, face the most pressure in Manhattan, where 45% pay rent that is officially “unaffordable.” But even those living in less expensive Staten Island and Queens aren’t much better off. There, 44% of middle-class residents in both boroughs shoulder unaffordable housing costs.

According to the study, 30% of New Yorkers devote more than half their income to rent alone. The high cost of living here is threatening to drive the middle class out of the city, Mr. Liu said.

“Working families should not be forced to leave town or live in inferior housing,” he said. “We need to invest more in affordable housing for middle-income renters so that our city is not only home to the very wealthy and the very poor but also to the vast majority of New Yorkers who fall in between.”

Some 70% of New Yorkers rent their homes, compared with 30% nationally. The vacancy rate of rental housing is 3% in New York City, compared with 10% nationally, and falls to less than 1% at peak times of the year.

The comptroller’s study, titled “Rents through the Roof,” cited census data showing that the high cost of living in the city disproportionately affects middle-income households. Low-income and high-income families don’t face the same pressures. Those earning less than $35,000 can turn to affordable-housing programs, while those in high-income brackets spend a similar percentage of their income on rent as the rest of the U.S.

And relief for the middle class is nowhere on the horizon, the study points out, as New Yorkers continue to face rising rents and record-low vacancy rates. In 2000, 23 of the city’s rental units were unaffordable to middle-income households, but that figure had jumped to 38% in 2010.

Source: Crain’s New York