The Surreal Estate

Perspectives on Tenant Organizing from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

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Friday News Round-Up!

This is our first September news round-up. This week kids went back to school in New York City (and many, many other places to probably.) Other things also happened:

  1. Richard Florida at The Atlantic Cities, with the help of Paul Romer and the NYU Urbanization Project makes a case for City-Sponsored Visas, temporary with the possibility of renewal and a path to citizenship. Of course, employers already sponsor Visa Applications, as do colleges. Read more. We think this is a really creative idea that could make a big impact in opening doors to  immigrant communities.
  2. Our favorite speeches from the DNC: Julian Castro, Elizabeth Warren, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden. (Does Biden tear up at the end of this one?) Michelle Obama and her husband were also good.
  3. Check out New York Mag to read more about Vito Lopez, the ever-deepening scandal and what it means for Sheldon Silver. And of course, Power-Hungry Andrew Cuomo possibly taking advantage of this moment. However, Silver will not be investigated by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. And the New York Times talks about the trouble with saying “NO” to Brooklyn Kingmaker Vito Lopez. And don’t forget to vote on September 19th for Mr. Lopez’s replacement. Governor Paterson says Brooklyn should look for young Brooklyn democrats to replace Vito Lopez as county chairman.
  4. That’s My Issue at The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC is a great way to let other audience members know why the issue you are most passionate about is important, politically or personally. A couple weeks ago Brian Lehrer had a call-in “That’s My Issue” about homeownership and how it has shaped your politics.
  5. At City Limits, NYCHA Residents Seek More Power. City Limits responds to investigations of NYCHA on the part of the New York Daily News.
  6. It’s official: The Rent Is Too Damn High. The Council for Community and Economic Research in Washington, DC released a report proving Brooklyn is the 2nd most expensive place to live in the country, topped only by…anyone care to guess?…Manhattan. The Center for New York City Neighborhoods responds to what this could mean for Brooklyn’s black communities. Read more at Colorlines.

Friday News Round Up!

ImageLike last Friday, we’re bringing your articles from the web that we found interesting or relevant to the work that we do. 

  1. The Community Service Society released a report on the cost burden on rent for low income New Yorkers. The most commonly accepted definition of affordability is that housing costs do not exceed 30% of total household income. That’s why Section 8 recipients pay 30% of their income on rent, and their voucher covers the remaining cost. (Curious about why 30%? Learn more here.) According to the Community Service Society, though, low-income New York City tenants pay nearly 49% of their income to landlords, up from 45% six years ago.
  2. The Martin Prosperity Institute released a graphic map (shown above) that demonstrates the number of newly naturalized American citizens per large metropolitan center; Richard Florida at The Atlantic Cities commented on this at The Atlantic Cities in an article, Melting Pot Cities. New York City tops the list in sheer numbers: of all new citizens, nearly 15% live in New York City. (Miami, however, has a highest amount per capita number of new citizens at 998 per 100,000 people.) New York City lags, however, when it comes to opportunities for immigrants. Boston, D.C., and San Francisco show the highest number of immigrants working in high skilled labor. We need to continually work on developing opportunities for life-sustaining employment for New York’s immigrants! (Read more: Florida has long argued that our immigration policies are much too strict; that our tight controls on immigration hold society back.)
  3. It’s been HOT. City Room at the NY Times tells us just how hot. Thursday’s record breaking temperatures reached 97 degrees. Heat waves in cities are dangerous; the Center for Disease Control estimates that nearly 700 people die each year from heat related illness, but in a terrifying statistic they also estimate that by the year 2050 that number will have jumped to between 2,000 and 5,000 due to climate change. In his book Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, sociologist Eric Klinenberg described how social forces determined fatal outcomes in Chicago’s 1995 heat wave. (We really recommend it.) It’s no surprise that low income residents, isolated in run-down buildings in high poverty neighborhoods are at a much greater risk for heat-related death. His book also reminds us of the value of a tenants association, in providing strong support networks that can help in times of crisis!  
  4. Despite support from Mayor Bloomberg and widespread support from law enforcement, Governor Cuomo’s attempt to decriminalize marijuana has been struck down by Republican state senators. WNYC reports that the lack of support was likely due to political pressure from the State Conservative Party, who vowed not to support any Republicans in upcoming races who voted for the bill. The bill would take a tremendous burden off law enforcement, and combat the disproportionate number of arrests in the Black and Latino community due to Stop-and-Frisk policies. Governor Cuomo has indicated that he is not looking for partial reform; bill supporters remain committed to passing the legislation this year.

That’s all for today! Have a great weekend and we’ll be back on Monday!

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