Urban Fold

How New York's Hasidim Solved the City's Affordable Housing Problem

The certainly won't win any design awards, but new multi-family residential buildings erected by Hasidic developers in Brooklyn show that it's possible to build spacious and cheap housing in New York for families small and large.

"Strolling down Bedford Avenue, you’re greeted by a solid wall of new six-story brick buildings," writes Stephen Jacob Smith. "The apartments are spacious and cheap by New York standards. For half a million dollars, you can buy a three-bedroom condo in a new elevator building."

"How the ultra-Orthodox have succeeded in building thousands of units and keeping the neighborhood affordable for families—on private land, and without public money—is a testament to their strongly pro-development attitudes and a bloc voting strategy reminiscent of the ethnic politics patterns of the Tammany Hall era," says Smith. "In a city slow to accommodate new development, they have managed to keep on building in a way that the city’s storied real estate interests can only dream of."

"It’s hard not to look at those impossibly affordable three bedrooms and wonder what might happen elsewhere in Brooklyn if the valve were open a bit more."

Full Story: Weapons of Mass Construction: Satmars’ Secret to Keeping Housing Prices Low

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