Too Much Obsessing over Gentrification?
In response to stories like this one from the New York Times, Stephen Smith argues that the press is missing the point. High-end developments, pieds-à-terre, and gentrification, Smith argues, are only partially responsible for a deficit of affordable real estate.
The article asserts that middle-income immigrant demand has created a competitive rental market in districts where white gentrifiers have not settled. A fixation with astronomically-priced condos is misplaced: "with three-quarters of the housing units in East New York being rented out, it’s rental rates, not sales prices, that are the real cause of concern when it comes to rising housing costs."
Another of Smith’s problems with gentrification-focused reporting: statistics cited by those articles "lumped together all non-primary residences, whether they were truly empty pieds-à-terre, or merely condos that were rented out—a somewhat interesting phenomenon, but nowhere near as controversial as apartments that actually sit empty." He calls out the press for sensationalizing an influx of "yuppies" and "oligarchs."