Co-ops are the enemy of affordable housing

By Joseph N. Manago

A recent StreetEasy analysis of all types of rentals has shown that the median rent-to-income ratio averaged 65.2 percent in New York City in 2016—two-thirds of renters’ income spent on rent. Although lagging income growth contributes to rent affordability, the problem is an effect of the depletion of rent-stabilized apartments due to co-ops, which have abolished a large population of rental units from the 1980s onward upon conversion of buildings to cooperatives.

Renters in non-eviction conversions became undesirables from the perspective of co-op shareholders, who, aside from sponsors or investors, inflated the petty bourgeoisie. Every city block became flooded with presidents of co-op boards, and a board, albeit elected, functioned as a fascist political entity, with a disfranchisement of citizens from state rent-stabilization protections.

Some landlords converted their buildings to co-ops, then bought back the units, only to rent them as sublets, immune from New York State rent-stabilization guidelines and New York City Rent Stabilization Board rent-increase limitations; likewise, shareholders capitalized by subletting their units. So market-rate apartments have become the norm, and the affordability crisis has worsened in the city. Co-ops are the bane of New York, and should be swiftly abolished.

Joseph N. Manago


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