The following editorial by Robert Rhodes appeared in The Journal News December 31, 2018
Our housing market is broken. Improving economic conditions have not led to the construction of affordable housing. The cost of two-bedroom apartments in Manhattan went up by 30 percent in 2016 and the outer boroughs were not far behind.
As rents have increased the marginal middle class is moving down into less desirable housing and paying more and more money for housing while competing with poorer families. This is what happens when more money chases the fixed supply of an essential product.
We are seeing more and more families living with friends, or forced into inadequate emergency housing.
Not surprisingly, there has been a migration of poor families to New York’s suburbs where the situation is hardly better. The search by government agencies for affordable housing for poor families is a hopeless endeavor. As minimum wages increase much if not most of that increase ends up in the pockets of slumlords.
Albany has recently decided that all is well in Ramapo and that state oversight of local housing conditions is no longer necessary. This is to be expected given the fact that New York City politicians and judges are no more willing to punish their slumlords than are our own local leaders.
Despite years of terrible human suffering, building violations piling up in local courts, and nothing changes.
A handful of our local leaders do care, including retired Rockland County Emergency Services Director Gordon Wren Jr.; Rabbi Justin Schwartz of the Rockland County Illegal Housing Task Force; Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, D-New City; and Rockland County Executive Ed Day.
Unfortunately, we have had neither the institutional changes required to improve this situation nor the support of the vast majority of our local politicians who know the best way to get re-elected is to let sleeping dogs lie.
The writer, a Suffern resident is chairman of Preserve Ramapo.