The Washington Post came up with a new code phrase for rent control – “reasonably priced housing.”
In an article bemoaning the potential “loss of middle-income housing – and people” in Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town, the November 12 Post tried to spin rents less than half the market rate as essential for an “economically calibrated life.”
Reporter Robin Shulman did a long feature on Stuyvesant and its huge towers with 11,232 apartments – 73 percent of which are rent-controlled. A typical three-bedroom apartment that actually rents for legitimate Manhattan rates goes for $3,833 or nearly $46,000 a year, reported Shulman. A rent-controlled place goes for $1,514 or about $28,000 less each year.
Rather than embracing the post-9/11 growth helping New York get back on its feet, Shulman wrote that “middle-class living in Manhattan is a careful balance” that includes little time off and shopping at thrift stores.
The thoroughly one-sided piece on “rent stabilization” included no statements from the new landlord, a company that bought the apartments for $5.4 billion, or from free-market groups explaining the many flaws in rent control. Studies have shown that rent control can lead to decreased maintenance and discourage new home construction.
Instead, the story included representatives from the Tenants Political Action Committee, a liberal think tank that advocates for affordable housing and tenants who, naturally, didn’t want to pay more for rent. One tenant, whose rent wasn’t controlled, even had the audacity to complain that he can’t control the housing market. “The fact that it can creep up with no upward bound – that’s what I find most unsettling,” he said.
Shulman ended the piece by describing one of the tenant couples as “among the people who help make New York unique.” The article told readers, “For now, they’d like to stay in Manhattan.” It didn’t add that the couple expected to stay at less than 40 percent of the market rate.