California has a tremendous homeless problem. Of course, it’s easy to blame the politicians in charge of the once-beautiful major cities on the West Coast, but there is another factor at play with California’s homeless population. After all, New York is widely governed by the same sort of politics, and while we here in the Empire State do have our fair share of homeless people, it pales in comparison to the Golden State. The variable? Weather. California has beautiful weather all year round, making the outdoors livable to the homeless. In New York, the bitter cold winters force the homeless to find shelter of some sort.
New York is incentivized to find a place for its homeless to live. Enter Governor Kathy Hochul. Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams helped break ground on a $189 million project in the Bronx that will provide 326 apartment units, 200 of which will be reserved for the homeless. Sounds like a good plan, right? Ha! You clearly haven’t been reading this column long enough! I fooled you!
According to construction aggregation site fixr.com, the national average cost for a 50-unit apartment complex is around $11 million. That comes out to about $220,000 per unit. At $189 million for 326 apartments, Hochul is paying about $580,000 per unit. Even if you were to say that New York property is on the higher end, and wanted to double the average cost per apartment, Hochul is still paying $180,000 more per unit. And let’s be clear: New York property is expensive, but it’s not double the national average expensive. And this isn’t the middle of Manhattan; this is the Bronx, where oh by the way, the average home sale is $395,000 according to realtor.com. Hochul is paying almost $200,000 more per unit than the current going rate for already existing homes in the Bronx.
And that’s just the starting point. Those of you who have done any sort of construction project know that the quoted price is never the ending price. So we can rest assured knowing that the price New Yorkers are about to overpay for housing is in fact much more than we are being told right now.
So why is this happening now? Well, as someone who has worked for organizations providing services to the homeless populations, I can tell you that you act as soon as you can. You do not want to let politicians renege on their promises. However, that’s not the exact point here. Why is the Governor making this happen now? That, of course, is because she is in the middle of an election campaign. A nice photo-op with community leaders in front of a construction site that is supposed to helping the homeless as well as the city fix the homeless crisis is a great PR move. But do not be fooled. Politicians don’t just happen to schedule these things at certain times; they are carefully planned. And politicians don’t just use any event a s photo-op. There are other construction projects beginning in the state right now. This is the one she wants you to know about. This is the one she thinks is going to turn voters out.
Just keep in mind every time you see that picture of the governor and the mayor taking dirt out of the ground, know that this project will end up costing New York tax payers triple the going rate for construction. And that’s what you can expect from a Hochul administration.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.