Thingish Things

Poverty Re-Defined NY Style

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Jun• 20•11


The difference between poverty in New York State — having so little money that one is eligible for a rent regulated apartment — and wealth — making enough money to pay a “millionaires tax” * — is being newly quantified in Albany today, according to news reports. That number will now be  $50,000, pre-tax.

A family earning $200,000 per year will be poor enough to qualify for rent stabilized housing, while a family earning $250,000 is classified as “rich”, not just by Albany standards, but by President Obama’s measurement as well (remember that pledge? No tax increases on families making under $250,000.)

Government housing regulation advocates wanted the income threshold even higher for families to qualify for regulated housing. They had been pushing for $240,000 as the magic number, which would have reduced the gap between the need for government intervention and “millionaire” status in New York to $10,000, or about $6,000 after taxes.

New York won’t differentiate where in the state one lives, of course. A family making $251,000 and paying $35,000 in property taxes and a $5,000 mortgage in Bronxville is rich, while a Buffalo family making $199,000 and paying $1,500 in rent — with zero property taxes — qualifies for government protection.

I’ve never been a fan of the word “hypocrisy.” I find it cutting and overused. But the hypocrisy among housing advocates in New York is mind-blowing.  They throw out the term “middle class” in an attempt to blend all lines. But their rationale for government controlled housing gets weaker and weaker each year as tenants who have no business in stabilized housing make more money.

Somehow this is made to seem normal here on Planet New York. But, plainly, it is not.

*The “millionaire’s tax” bill failed.


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