MetaProp’s decision to invest in affordable housing is good news. Affordable housing is both a human right and in my home town NYC its an engine for economic and cultural vitality.
Why Come to NYC When It’s So Costly?
It’s easy for native New Yorkers to forget how iconic we are as a destination. We forget what we represent in the imagination of so many ambitious people. The strivers who come from communities that are smaller, less densely populated and poorer in economic and cultural opportunity. NYC is where artists, writers, performers and those that Richard Florida has dubbed, the creative class, have always yearned to come, work and live. This is where they find their ‘tribe’, people who ‘get’ them.
Entrepreneurs must be included in this class of people. They create something from nothing. Whether their vision is of a utilitarian business or something with immense social impact, the function is still the same. Their business does not exist today but in six months, one year, people will be using it and paying for it. That is the creative act as much as is staring at a blank canvass with paintbrush in hand or stepping into an empty dance studio with a rough choreographic idea and music in mind.
What’s the Liability of Costly Housing?
None of this is possible without the luxury of time that is afforded by reasonable rent. With rents making up 50% or more of one’s income there’s little room for the risk taking activity of creation. Mayor de Blasio has made the most effective efforts of any mayor in recent history but it is far from sufficient to continue to replenish the supply of creative risk takers needed.
Kudos to MetaProp for being part of the solution. So while I don’t fully subscribe to the Jane Jacobs quote, “When a place gets boring even the rich people leave”, NYC would be a much poorer place if we continue to move in that direction.
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