Joe Biden has proposed the most radical housing policy in our nation’s history. It will remove responsibility for zoning in local communities from city councils and put it in the hands of the federal government. When you combine this policy with the Unity Platform on criminal justice, the results will be disastrous.
You can see a preview of what this will look like on New York City’s Upper West Side. During the COVID-19 pandemic, FEMA and the city paid hundreds of millions of dollars to put homeless individuals in hotels, transferring them from congregate shelters. The contract runs through October and is expected to be renewed.
Three of these hotels are on the Upper West Side, a mostly residential area with many families and children. According to the New York Post:
Upper West Side residents say three hotels that are housing hundreds of homeless men during the coronavirus pandemic have turned the area into a spectacle of public urination, catcalling and open drug use.
Among those staying at the luxury Belleclaire on Broadway and the Lucerne on West 79th Street, and the more down-market Belnord on West 87th Street, are people who are mentally ill, recovering from drug addictions, and registered sex offenders.
One of the hotels, which houses ten sex offenders, is located just a block from the playground at a local elementary school. Residents are reporting feeling less safe and having to endure vagrant behaviors, including drug use and dealing in the open.
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A Facebook group has been formed in which residents exchange photos of men peeing, masturbating and lying sprawled and passed out near the hotels.
“Our community is terrified, angry and frightened,” one organizer of the 1,700-member group, Dr. Megan Martin, told The Post.
A group of nearly a dozen local rabbis last week asked to meet with the mayor to see if something can be done — but so far, no response, one told The Post
How does this preview Joe Biden’s housing policy? He will reinstate the Affirmatively Fair Housing rule recently repealed by the Trump administration. Among other things, this requires communities to eliminate minimum lot sizes, single-family housing zoning, and create high-density, low-income housing inside existing neighborhoods.
These policies all sound bad enough. It is a federal power-grab meant to diversify communities, assuming that disparities are not related to individual preferences. HUD would also have the ability to mandate business districts, require public transportation, and redraw school district boundaries. It would also force suburban communities into regional governing bodies with the closest metropolitan area.
However, when you combine the housing policy with elements of the criminal-justice plan published by the Biden campaign, almost any community could face what residents on the Upper West Side are dealing with.
Two of the elements of the plan would make schools less safe. The DOE would reinstate the restorative-justice disciplinary policies of the Obama administration. This rule would remove juveniles who commit crimes at school from the criminal justice system and place them in other programs. The platform also incentives states to eliminate juvenile detention, even for violent crimes.
Another part of the platform would eliminate any barriers in housing for former inmates. No matter the severity of the crime or the proximity to vulnerable populations, a former inmate could not be denied housing. This rule would be enforced through the Department of Housing and Urban Development refusing to contract with any facility that refuses former inmates.
In short order, you could have high-density, low-income housing in your community, which will have to take former inmates as residents. This is just like New York City placing sex and drug offenders in hotels in residential neighborhoods to remove them from dormitory-style housing.
Right now, the residents of the Upper West Side are lucky. They can move out, and they are, according to the website 6sqft. Not only are they leaving, but the real estate values are also tanking.
CityRealty compared sale listings in January to those last week and found that the overall listing price among Manhattan condo, co-op, condop, and townhouse listings has fallen an average of 11 percent to $2,175,000 in the past seven months. And when it comes to specific neighborhoods, Lincoln Center, the Upper West Side neighborhood mainly centered around the 60s, saw prices fall the most at 32 percent.
That calculation was at the end of July. It is going to get worse if residents continue to see their communities decline.
One of the Escape from New Yorkers is Elizabeth Carr, one of the area’s most vocal leaders in combating mounting crime in the well-heeled ‘hood. She was an administrator of the Facebook group NYC Moms for Safer Streets, and the face of a public-safety movement that has attracted thousands to demand better policing and city services.
“In the best of times, NYC is a hard place to live,” said Carr. “Now you have all this other stuff. It’s a question for families … to have to see a guy masturbating on the corner or explain to my kids while I’m buying diapers at Duane Reade why this guy wearing no shoes is collapsed on the floor and they’re doing CPR on him.
“She said she started planning to move before the COVID crisis and recent neighborhood developments, but officially put down stakes Sunday in North Carolina with her finance husband and three kids under 7.
“We reached our New York expiration date,” the former nonprofit exec, who’d lived on the UWS since 2007, told The Post from her new home 600 miles away. “Things weren’t heading in the right direction. What we’re seeing now isn’t at all surprising.”
Unfortunately, if Joe Biden’s policy plans are implemented, the number of places you can flee to get away from communities in chaos will be limited. It would be wrong for the state government to take this much control over local communities. For the federal government to do it using grants and highway funding as the stick is intolerable. The more disturbing part is that much of this can be done administratively and will not require Congress to pass legislation.
It could be your community that has ten sex offenders housed near a school playground. Or felons, released after violent offenses, housed near your senior living community. Unless you are part of the permanent Zoom class, your options will be limited. Think about that before you vote.