Trinity House and Affordable Housing

While walking into Riverside Church today for the convocation celebrating Trinity School’s 300th anniversary I was handed a flyer protesting Trinity’s proposed sale of the apartment building it owns next to its school. I am not supportive of the rent stabilization system that has survived in New York since it is not based on need. There are simply too many stories of actresses keeping pied-a-terres in New York and rent stabilized tenants with expensive summer homes. I am cognizant that the system helps many who could not otherwise afford housing. But the system has outlived both its constitutionality and basic fairness. Its constitutionality is suspect not only because the federal courts are taking much tougher looks at these government “takings” but also because the World War II housing shortage that gave the rent control system its original rationale should no longer be relied upon. (Some will undoubtedly say that my views are colored by my career representing the real estate industry.) But the real challenge is how, as a society, we will provide affordable housing to all. The more I ponder it, the harder it seems. The biggest issue - which is also implicated by the rent stabilization system - is how do you pick the right people to get the subsidized housing. There are lots of people smarter than me thinking about this issue. Please email me if you know of affordable housing ideas that treat the selection of the beneficiaries of the housing in a thoughtful way.

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