Skyrocketing Rents in NYC Even Force ‘Professionals’ to Maintain Public Housing


*Jimmy McMillan (scroll down to see him pictured below) wasn’t just shooting off steam when he made the declaration that seemed to spark more laughter than anything after going viral on social media:

“Rents are too damn high!”

Well, the comedic reference actually became a political party; and it was always steeped in truth. And as time goes on it seems you’ll have to practically be on the road to millionaire status to continue living in a place like New York.

For those of you who may stick your nose up a notch when you hear of people that live in public housing, you may want to stop that. The look of this population has changed. Today’s public housing residents include many of the so-called middle class: college graduates; people who hold down good jobs and everyone in-between.

In other words: while many things about poverty remains the same, the look of today’s “poor” has changed.

Skyrocketed rents in metropolitan cities such as New York are forcing many people who had aspirations to move out of public housing, to remain there.

Take Esther Swan and Miguel Acevedo.

Swan, now 55, did grow up in public housing; but it was never her intent to stay there. She has worked as a professional in the corporate environment for quite some time; currently as a talent director at an entertainment company.

But she can’t move from her apartment in Chelsea’s Fulton Houses because the low rent is what has allowed her to pay for good child care and a good education for her son.

And Acevedo, also 55, lives in the same four-bedroom apartment that he was raised in — with seven extended family members.

Both see no way out. And plan to stay in the public housing as the New York rents around them continues to soar.


“Staying at Fulton helped me to continue to follow my dream,” she said.

An article in the New York Times says, for many families in public housing, it is a rite of passage to one day move into private rentals or buy their own homes. But in another sign of the affordability challenges facing New Yorkers, many others are staying longer, if not for life, even when making a decent living. That has forced New York to balance two critical, yet opposing, objectives: to maintain economic diversity in the crumbling housing projects, and to make room for its neediest residents.

The New York City Housing Authority holds 178,000 apartments and a waiting list of 270,000 families. They have been under pressure to do more to force families making an income higher than the eligibility threshold of $69,050 for a family of four to move out of the projects; but opposition by both the housing authority and HUD present the argument that these families serve as role models for the others.

According to the article, in fact, New York’s and other housing authorities have encouraged those families to stay, saying they are positive role models and keep the projects from becoming isolated pockets of poverty.

Not to mention these families pay the highest rents.


Read the New York Times article in its entirety here.

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