Well, there goes the neighborhood

My part of Brooklyn has been resisting gentrification for a long, long time, but it seems like they have, in fact, invaded.

Oh, I’m not happy at. all.

So there’s this developer who began building on the very corner of my block. He apparently thinks that he can rent out apartments starting at $3,000 a month. Excuse me while the neighborhood laughs in his face, collectively. This is still the place where, with some luck and heavy duty hunting, you can get an apartment for three figures a month. $3K a month? For what, exactly? Are the toilets made of gold? Come on now. What exactly in South Brooklyn is an amenity that’s worth charging this much money for that people can’t find a way to deal without, like they’ve gone for decades? It’s not like we don’t know how to wash dishes by hand, go to the laundromat, or to put up a window A/C.

He also didn’t take the lesson from the two unfinished and abandoned buildings a block away in either direction. They are abandoned and unfinished why? Because, just like this guy, they thought that they could jack up the prices to kingdom come and make a mint.

Not on our backs you won’t.

Well, it hit across the street this time. A 2-family home on sale… and it’s $1,599,999.

Jesus. Riverdancing. Christ.

This is South Brooklyn. Seriously. It’s not Manhattan. At this stage, I’m starting to wonder just what the hell this city is going to look like in three years, because – and I know I’m not the only one who realizes this – there are not enough rich people to buy up all these overpriced properties. All those luxury condo buildings? They’re empty! They’re nothing more than little tax shelters, and it’s not like there’s, I don’t know… a housing crisis here, or anything, because most people who actually live in these neighborhoods are getting priced out of the homes they had for decades. All those developments spike the property tax rates through the roof, and it’s a matter of time before the family living five doors away from that newfangled luxury building says, “I can’t afford to stay in my own home”.

And what about people like me? Middle-class professionals that, with their current salary, only 5-6 years ago, could afford a simple no-frills 1BR apartment six blocks from the subway, only to find themselves laughed out of any realtor’s office today? How long can we stay in a building where the price is slowly rising too far out of reach of most paychecks? I have a mother to take care of, because she wants to retire sooner rather than later. Does anyone really expect her to work into her seventies? I certainly don’t, but I also see no way to afford a 2BR apartment on my salary alone. We’ve stayed in the same building 20 years so far, and if even this is growing out of reach, then we have a very serious problem.

I’m hardly alone in this, either. I’m not even starting on the fast that salaries never kept pace with the 3% rent escalation. Yeah, 3% over 20 years is about a 60% increase total, but did salaries go up 60%? Gods no. Salaries in NYC stayed roughly the same. And how, exactly, do prices like this work with these salaries? This is not just unrealistic, it’s mathematically absurd. Numbers never lie; 2+2 is always 4, no matter how you calculate it. And if your rent eats up most of your paycheck? You’re guaranteed to slide into debt.

It’s like… where do all the non-billionaires go? Seriously. This city cannot and will not function without its middle class, and the middle class has long become the working poor. And that’s most of NY, like ir ot not. But nope – there’s all the developers and greedy landlords thinking all the rich people will move into their buildings at those prices.

Over a mil and a half for an 80-year-old 2-fam house in South Brooklyn… Yeah. This is a reality right now. All the while we’re left wondering just what exactly to do when the rent at our own building gets too high even for us. All the while, there’s a developer on the corner, who firmly believes that a $3K/mo rent is reasonable, who completely fails to see that if the other two buildings are incomplete and abandoned, there’s no reason to believe he will fare differently.

But then again, that’s the human condition, isn’t it? We all believe we’re different – just like everyone else.

Except this time, it concerns very real people and very real families, who just might not have any other way to survive in this city, no matter how many jobs they work.

K.G.

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