Monday, July 13, 2015

Bad Old Days

There's a panic spreading across a certain sector of the city. Pre-Giuliani New York is coming back!

For mega-realtor Robert Knakal at the Commercial Observer, crime is "increasing like wildfire." And along with all the "shootings and murders" comes "an alarming degradation in quality of life issues, which mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg worked so hard to improve." The terror? Squeegee guys and homeless people.

All of this, Knakal argues, is bad for tourism and the high price of commercial real estate.

"Fuck You Pay Me" guy, with anarchy tattoo, Times Square

The New York Post is having a field day with this idea that New York is experiencing an increase in its homeless population.

John Podhoretz is worried about the degradation of the urban streetscape. He wrote about high-rent blight, all those shuttered businesses sitting dead due to insane rent hikes, then argued about an apparent increase in aggressive "panhandlers from the neighborhood’s bad old days."

Tom Wilson is worried about homeless people pissing in the streets and sleeping outside Victoria's Secret, where they drive away the customers. “It reminds me of the pre-Giuliani era,” said one Penn Station commuter. “The police aren’t chasing them away anymore.”

A whole team of Post writers are worried about Tompkins Square Park filling up with "herds" of vagrants. “I really don’t enjoy the beauty of the park anymore because I’m too scared to walk through it,” said one NYU student.

(When will the Post pick up on the purse and iPhone snatchings in the East Village?)

In sum, the increased presence of homeless people means: 1. High rents will come down, 2. Customers won't shop at suburban chain stores anymore, 3. The tourists will finally go home, and 4. NYU students will be afraid of the East Village.

How is any of this a bad thing?

The panic has even gone national. "Beggars everywhere," says right-wing scaremonger Bill O'Reilly, who believes that homelessness "exploded" under Bill de Blasio. "And that is a totally different change from the Bloomberg administration. They're wiping your windows, they're following you down the street."

It's "anarchy" says O'Reilly. Anarchy!

"Cash" outside Chase Bank, E. Village

We saw this same panic back in 2008, after Wall Street's crash. Everyone was wringing their hands about the "bad old days." They did not return and they're unlikely to do so today.

Also, let's get it right. The increase in homelessness was a Bloomberg problem.

The homeless population exploded during the billionaire mayor's reign, with numbers unmatched since the Great Depression. Bloomberg increased homelessness in the city by withholding affordable housing. For decades, people who applied through the city’s shelter system were given priority for federal housing programs like Section 8. Bloomberg cut them off. In a paranoid fantasy, he believed in a “perverse incentive” for homelessness, that New Yorkers were making themselves homeless just to get cheap housing from the government. He replaced the Section 8 priority with a short-term subsidy that soon became a revolving door, forcing the homeless out of their new homes and back on the street.

Bloomberg complained that too many people who didn’t need help were taking advantage of the city’s shelter system. On WOR radio he said, “You can arrive in your private jet at Kennedy Airport, take a private limousine and go straight to the shelter system and walk in the door and we’ve got to give you shelter.”

"Cash" in cuffs, Ludlow Street

What gives some people anxiety is the increased visibility of the homeless. Well, this happens every summer. Homeless people are outside because it's warm.

It's also possible that cops are doing less hassling of the homeless, not hauling them off to Rikers simply for existing. And that's not a bad thing, either.

But keep up that scaremongering, fellas. You're doing a big favor for those of us who want our city back, who want an affordable, more interesting New York that isn't controlled by billionaires, tourists, and NYU students. By the way, have you heard of this handy little pamphlet called "Fear City"?


Mitch said...

Love this. Wasn't a big fan of the "tantrum", but you've hit the nail on the head.

Unknown said...

I have been warning of this Homelessness and crime problem for years now as it is only obvious that the pendulum has swung to far in the Billionaire direction. I would not be surprised if we return to the "bad old days" soon, but unfortunately so much of our prized culture along with many treasured NYC establishments have now been robbed from us! Of course there needs to be balance and you cant have a whole city full of million dollar apartments. As I have been saying all along, it's just not sustainable as the working class who are the backbone that keep the corporate establishments running need affordable housing and places to eat. The new servant class (which is replacing the middle class) philosophy of thought want's everyone to either work making pennies at Walmart or get paid like you work at Walmart. If these corporate entities don't get their workers and the greater public to comply, they threaten to take their business elsewhere like overseas. God forbid you want to Unionize! The media has done a good job promoting their parent corporations agenda of blaming Union demands for causing all the economic woes in this world. Of course we will always have the homeless along with the mentally ill cohabiting in our city, this is a fact of life. However, when you have proud hard working people who can't afford the rent anymore or are having a hard time raising families in this new servant class system, then it is logical to expect an increase in crime.

Sorry corporate billionaires, but there has to be opportunity and hope for everyone to keep a city vibrant. There needs to be fair competition from old established independently run businesses as well as entrepreneurial opportunities for startups. By startups, I don't mean another new franchise opportunity in one of your Applebees, banks, CVS's or Dunkin Donuts! Please spare New Yorkers the boredom and the minimum wage! NYC has always been a hub for the intellectually minded and the creatively gifted, but this new landscape of corporate chains does nothing to foster creative thought or the entrepreneurial spirit. Take your generic brand suburbia out of our cities! If you had to pay your workers a fair wage you probably wouldn't be the monopolies that you have become in the first place! You don't have a better business model, just more weight and influence to push around. NYC is not Dubai, and we need a healthier economic environment so we can all co-exist in BALANCE. If balance is not restored soon, homelessness, crime and blight will hit this city harder than the in "bad old days" before "progress" in the form of corporate sprawl came to "rescue" it in the form of "gentrification".

maximum bob said...

The bad old days were actually the good old days. It's all a matter of perception.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say but I agree with the NY Post links in this article. I know that NYC has lost most of its grit & seediness over the last 20 years or so. I understand that it's playground for the rich; that everything is a "Million Dollar" listing. I get it. Buuut- BUT- let's be brutal here- NYC was terrible before Rudy & Mayor Mike & Ray Kelly. Did anyone see the CNN documentary "The 70s" last week? When the lights went out in 1977? It was a disaster. New York was bad in the 70s & 80s. I know everyone gets nostalgic & romantic about "the good old days." They were better & simpler (& cheaper) then. The truth is "The Good Old Days" were bad in New York. As somebody who has been here pretty much everyday since 1994 (I visited as a kid a lot in the 80s) NYC has skyrocketed in popularity. In a perverse, back handed, kind of way- New York has gotten "too nice". Tens of millions of tourists & everybody wants/wanted to - live here. Now, unless you're a millionaire, you can't afford it. Lately however, things are starting to turn. Quality of life crimes, homelessness, shuttered storefronts- are way more common than even a year ago. The police are less proactive (that's another blog post) What can you expect with the people running NYC now? DeBlasio is a socialist/progressive/democrat. I hope New York doesn't end up like Chicago- or worse Detroit.

John23 said...

To the anonymous writer who "visited a lot in the 80's", sorry buddy, NY was NOT horrible before those Giuliani-days!
Only an outsider would fail to see that.
Born and raised here and there were good places and bad (like anywhere else), and it was wonderful seeing differences from one neighborhood to the next!
You could travel the world just by walking around Queens, Brooklyn and even Manhattan, neighborhood by neighborhood.
So the city was "dirty", "grimy", "rough around the edges"? Boo-hoo, guess what? That's life, and hiding all the "nasty" just to pander to weak-stomached/weak-minded asses like yourself only makes this city one big throbbing corpse.
It makes me sick to hear people like you, who came here during those "Giuliani years" thinking you know a thing or two about this city.
You may think you have some "cred" as a 20+ year NY-er, but all you are is another of these "johnny-come-lately's" who actually think they know better.
Get real.

Anonymous said...

@4:12pm: Oh, get over yourself. I've lived here since the 50's, and New York was not "bad" in the 70's and 80's. I walked the streets, took the subways and buses (as a single, petite female) and I'm still here to tell the tale. Many, many times I took the subway (alone) at 11pm from Union Square up to W. 96th Street, then walked several blocks to a friend's apartment.

Back then, there was a time when buses were FREE on Sundays and people did sane things like taking long walks, going to museums, or just relaxing. Now if there's not a crap street "festival" there's likely to be a mind-numbing parade. It's as if any possibility of calm or re-creation has been surgically removed from NYC.

Further, my neighborhood WAS actually still a neighborhood then: people moved in & stayed and knew each other. Now it's a bunch of "I'm so glad to get out of Ohio" college kids being dropped off by mommy & daddy at the dorm every August. They have ZERO interest in or investment in what this area is, and they sure as hell don't see it as a "neighborhood" - the East Village is now just "party central" with blocks full of drunk-eterias catering to their need to get blotto as often (and as cheaply) as possible.

I'm not "nostalgic" for the "good old days" - I'm in mourning for a time when the area where I live was a genuine & stable neighborhood, where I had neighbors who were there for longer than a semester or two (or a year or two post-grad). There are still a few of us around, but I guess everyone's waiting for us to die to free up more apartments for transients. The East Village is essentially now just one huge, extended tourist/mall/Airbnb experience where most people have an extremely short-term POV.

Justin Samuels said...

No one is going to be scared out of NYC. Dream on.

The Republicans are attacking Bill de Blasio and as this is an election year they will attack anything deemed liberal.

Meanwhile the last few decades have changes that cannot be undone. The white working class fled NYC, many tenements in lower Manhattan have been destroyed, industrial sectors of the city have been rezoned for corporate and residential use destroying much of the city's remaining industry capacity, etc.

And you really don't want Republican scaremongering to work. That lead to 8 years of Giuliani, 12 years of Bloomberg and gave them the license to transform the city into what it is now. If people are frightened enough the NYPD will be given license to do what they need to do to the homeless.

Re: In terms of the Lower East Side becoming a tourist/Airbnb experience, what else could it be? The industrial and shipping sectors that supported many working class people are gone,as are many back office clerical jobs. Tourism is one of the biggest and fastest growing parts of New York's economy,.

Anonymous said...

Sorry white privilege lady. 'museums and long walks'? And those kids you despise are the ones who will pay your govt benefits. Im sure you think you earned them. As far as apts go, yea you got yours. Selfish and disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Might this be a case of the chickens coming home to roost? Of hubris? Of an upset ecosystem's trying to return to its natural balance? If the smartphone snatcher is "Public Enemy #1," New Yorkers have gotten really soft. Where's the Screwdriver Stabber? The face-slashing purse snatcher? The ruthless, murderous Mob boss? On the EV Grieve blog, I posted a comment to say that the smartphone snatcher is enacting my infurated impulse to "grab a smartphone from some stupidperson's hand and toss it down a storm drain," and people commented that I was some sicko, failing to perceive any humorous intent. They must not be able to get to work without GPS. It's a matter of perspective that comes from living either in a comfort bubble or in a jungle. It's good to see that NYC is struggling to regain its social equilibrium. The ghosts of murdered "mom-and-pops" haunt the shuttered vacant storefronts. Karmic get-back, yo.

Anonymous said...

I hope you or a friend of relative are victims of the 'Karmic get-back yo'. Idiot.

Anonymous said...

It wasnt 'Republican scaremongering' that led to Guiliani and Bloomberg. It was the reality of life in NYC. Remember the Time magazine cover about the rotten apple? Remember when the NY Times endorsed Rudy in 1997 because not even they could deny that the city has improved vastly and was on the right track. People have very selective memories. And so many people are too young to understand. Folks in their 20s and 30s are too young and the old folks have memory issues. The population used to be a lit smaller. People didnt ride the subway 24/7. Times Sq, TSP, Central Park- daytime only in certain sections. People are in denial about what happened back in the day. Sure- drive put tourism. See how that impacts the economy. Turning NYC into a homeless free for all like LA is not the answer. Sorry. You want grit? Move to Newark, Baltimore, St. Louis etc. You will be very welcome there paleface delusional liberal. Decriminalize public drinking, urinating, etc. Demonize the cops. Good luck.

laura r said...

anons 4:12/2:26pm are correct. so is the anon person who "took long walks". i grew up in NYC (brooklyn), was in NYC full time since 1963. i have a broader presceptive. as an older person i do NOT have selective memory. not giving shelter to homeless is disgusting. letting in illegal criminals (santuary) is just as disgusting. letting potentially huge protests go on is the same. especially when they chant "what do we want? dead cops!" (these protests bring $ to NY, because w/these massive social events people dine/shop ect as NYers cant go about their business. same w/all these useless parades). next: neighborhoods got rundown in the 1950s/60s when the factories closed inthe deep south. there were migrations of afro americans who later became unemployed. the immigration of latinos brought gangs/crimes (sometimes the worst come w/the best). there was the creation of the suburbs, where we had white flight. most NY public schools were not acceptable. NY was fine in the 70s, but you had to avoid certain areas. i did ride the subways alone all hours in the mid "60s. there were police patrolling the train cars. (the subway line i rode which wasnt that unsafe for most of the stops). now i would never ever do that, its a different world. it was gross in the late 80s where homelessness was abundunt. that was when the european investors came bought up many buildings. crime has gone way up since de blasio. doute the rents will go down. why? they are building on every square inch on NY. then they put the homeless somewhere. so you want a cheap rent? i dont blame you. for that you have to live isolated in newark. good luck w/that one. you wont even make it to & from your apt to the train. in light of transnational global corps, the scenario in manhattan has changed. homeless on one side of the street, million $ apts on the other. as for a "middleclass", i dont see that. i wonder why deblasio isnt trying to open shelters? hes just another corrupt hack. i want guiliani back.

Forest Hills Harry said...

I fail to see how a homeless person pissing in the street can be considered a sign that we're progressing in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Thats what people want. More homeless more crime etc. Lets destroy tourism.and jobs. Destroy the tax base ( again ). Im sure Albany will help NYC. Right. Love the 4 point plan. How is this bad? Are you serious? Sadly you are. Homeless encampments as a sign if progress. Really? Was the city more interesting when people didnt ride the train late? When TSP, Central Park, Bryant park etc were drug dens and campgrounds? You realize crime stats involve actual people being mugged killed raped etc? You act like this is theoretical. You didnt live here then right? Funny how when EV Grieve interviews old timers many dont seem so upset like yku are. Ever been mugged or beaten? Have crackheads take over your lobby? Not use the local park because you just cant? No. Of course not. What a bunch of delusional idiot transplant palefaces.

Anonymous said...

@July 13, 10:22pm: So many wrong assumptions in one comment by you.

WTF is your problem with someone going to a museum or for a walk? Is that what you call "privilege"?

And hell, yeah, I DID earn my "government benefits" - otherwise known as social security & medicare. I earned them by working for many decades, including working a full-time job + 2 part-time jobs simultaneously. Is that also what you call "privilege"? I paid for other people's benefits by my contributions when I worked, and now the younger generation (at least the ones who are sober enough to hold down a job) pays for mine. That's how the system works.

I especially enjoy your assumption that I have a rent regulated apartment! I own my apartment because I was willing to buy when everyone else was running scared in the other direction. When I bought, my friends & family thought I was crazy, investing in such a crappy area.

Yep, those were the "bad old days" that everyone's afraid might come back: when you could get a job, make a living, pay your bills, buy an apartment, and (if you had any working brain cells) go to a museum on a day off. I'd take the NYC of the 1970's over the NYC of 2015 any day.

PS: Someday you should really get out of the house and go visit a museum.

Anonymous said...

'The increased presence of homeless people means...,,,,,How is any of this a bad thing?' Wow. So when increasing numbers of people are living on the street you say its good? And give reasons why? Really? People suffering and dying is wonderful And you blast Wall St for being heartless scumbags? Shameful. You support and approve of increased homelessness? You understand these are actual people? With names, families, history? And they are suffering out there. And you are happy because to you that somehow makes NYC more 'interesting' ? I am disgusted. This thought process is so warped. Youre saying that since this somehow benefits you and your agenda than its ok? Unreal. Disgusting. Appalling.

Anonymous said...

Um, EV Grieve guy, when your wife/significant other gets attacked by one of the colorful street people, you'll let us know how you feel about that? That it's ok?

Useful idiots,

Jeremiah Moss said...

Anon, increased presence is not the same as increased numbers. The entire article explains that.

laura r said...

increased presence means that the city has released the homeless like they did in the late 80s. the facilities were shut down. this is unfair for the homeless as well as the citizens. the NYPost is correct. sometimes it takes a tabloid to expose something. anyone who gets off on this is warped, evil. whether you choose to leave or stay is your perogative. you cant compare this to the 70s. as i said in my other comment: we didnt have foreign investors buying properties. some of the commenters here are college left overs. everything is about their fantacy entertainment. they think they are de niro in "taxi driver". my problem w/manhattan is that its overcrowed. i noticed this in the early 90s. since then its become a freakshow.

Anonymous said...

While you correctly blame Bloombetg policies for the INCREASE in homelessness you still feel its a positive. You wrote it. You own it. The article explains increased presence as a positive. Dont backtrack now. You were clear. Its also clear you dont see these people as human. Tourists leaving and jobs going away and the city economy taking a hit doesnt help anyone. The numbers of homeless are up AND they are more visible. If the NYT wrote this as an income inequality article what would you write? Youd blame gentrification and NYU. But if the Post writes it they are wrong. Political motives aside this is an unacceptable situation- except to you. These folks add 'color' right? Are they props for your amusement? Do you find it 'interesting' when people die on the subway or freeze to death? God forbid the Post shames DiBlasio into improving the shelters and services. What would you say then? Would you be disappointed? Untreated mental illness is neither colorful or interesting. Watching people slowly disintegrate and die isnt acceptable. You are wrong.

Anonymous said...

Jeremiah, We've lost buddy. Neoliberalism has destroyed our community and replaced it with a shopping mall. It's worse than Robert Moses's expressway through the South Bronx. Can you imagine a kid saying, "Hey, I love the Chase branch in the EV so much better than the one in Union Square!" It's fucking absurd. If 7-11 is their idea of hx and/or culture then they definitely come from a different world than you or I. It's the same mentality that the "founders" of this country came with: they slaughtered the natives and replaced it with their hideous culture. Get used to it, it's what happens in life. I hate what this city has become. I hate Starbucks, CVS, Disney, Marc Jacobs, Sex and the City, anything that is neoliberal - in other words, I hate the monoculture. But we have far more pressing issues befalling this planet than the Walmartization of Manhattan. Though I understand that they're interrelated.