Another day, another almost comically terrible quote from Mayor Bloomberg about New York’s affordability crisis and widening income gap: he thinks it’s all more or less a sign that things are as they should be. “Somebody said that there’s not enough housing,” he said over the weekend on his usual radio appearance. “That’s a good sign. It doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem, but there are no vacancies.”
A little insensitive and tone-deaf, maybe, given the city’s record levels of homelessness (and the fact that Bill de Blasio more or less won the primary, and very likely mayoral election, on the premise that the city is rapidly squeezing out just about everyone other than the Russian billionaires Bloomberg has so publicly courted), but not inherently crazy. Most of the U.S. is still recovering from a crippling crash in the housing market, after all, so it’s not such a huge stretch to see high demand in the market as a positive thing.
It is a stretch, though, to see a boom in luxury developments (and the apparent return of rapid, high-priced flipping) as some kind of net-positive, trickle-down force that will in some way create housing opportunities for everyone else. “That will bring in investment, for people to build for all income levels, different kinds of housing,” Bloomberg said of new developments and the city’s increasingly expensive market. “In cities, if you want to have lots of vacancies where everybody could easily find a place, you don’t have a good economy.”
A little hard to take seriously in a market where the most obvious example of developments creating affordable units are luxury high rises that actively segregate their lower-paying tenants. And, ultimately, the kind of thinking (or at the very least, lack of tact) that led just about every mayoral candidate in the race to run on an anti-Bloomberg platform. But, then, he’ll be out of office soon enough, and until then, we can all come together around the soda ban.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.