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Flopping around and getting nowhere

August 21, 2013

Matt Yglesias posted on homelessness today:

Of course along with giving housing to the homeless you also have to act on the supply-side. Obviously I’m a big fan of upzonings and increased density. But Alan Durning has pointed out that along with encouraging more construction, we need to think about re-legalizing flophouses and boarding houses and other forms of ultra-small ultra-cheap housing that can serve vulnerable populations.

New York is still fixated on the full-sized family model of affordable housing. It doesn’t match the local need for recent single immigrants looking to acrue savings from a low wage. This politically correct but uncritical model is also keyed into market rate development, so little of it is created and when it is, it’s mostly too expensive for the low-inicome savers in the recent immigrant population. So it’s just not the solution for Chinatown. AAFE has built a lot of senior housing, much of it outside Chinatown, which doesn’t augment the Chinatown consumption economy or the cultural character of Chinatown or provide for recent immigrants. It simply doesn’t address the urgent need of the larger Chinatown community. The city is even further behind the curve with voluntary inclusionary housing which has little incentive. New York is probably the one location in the nation where mandatory inclusionary housing would not drive developers away. And yet New York coddles its real estate industry unnecessarily.

Why aren’t the Chinatown Working Group and its members discussing and advocating micropartments and SRO’s through social service construction?

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