In State of the City, Christine Quinn says middle class can’t afford NYC

Christine Quinn
Council Speaker Christine Quinn delivers the 2013 State of the City Address. (William Alatriste)

New York is not a city friendly to teachers and construction workers.

That is one of the points City Council Speaker Christine Quinn made today, when she used her State of the City address at City Hall to say that New York is pricing out the middle class.

From housing to child care, Quinn said, the city is too expensive for people like teachers and construction workers to live.

“We face an affordability crisis in our city,” she said. “We need to make sure that people who want to stay in our great city can afford to stay.”

She added, “I refuse to accept the notion that large portions of our city are destined to become a luxury only available to the wealthiest among us.”

Her office released a report showing that the average middle-class income has steadily declined since 2001. Meanwhile, Manhattan and Brooklyn were listed in the top five most expensive urban areas of the country, and the unemployment rate for the middle class hit 6.2 percent. Before 2008, that rate was 2 percent, according to the report.

Quinn, who is running for mayor, also spoke about her own background, mentioning her grandfather arriving in New York 100 years ago from Ireland and shoveling coal in a slaughterhouse, all hoping for a better life for his kids.

“That’s the dream of the middle class,” she said.

Housing affordability was her top focus – she suggested creating 40,000 new middle-income apartments throughout the next 10 years.

Quinn also wants to reward building owners that turn market-rate apartments into affordable units, suggesting a fixed property tax.

“We will not let middle-class families get priced out of the neighborhoods they helped build,” she said.

She also promised to overhaul the city’s maintenance code, ensuring that things like leaking pipes will become a specific violation, which will also keep affordable housing well maintained.

One mom’s struggle to build a business

Throughout the speech, Quinn spoke of New Yorkers trying to get by and succeed in the city, like Lerida Mojica, who started a company, New York Cake Pops, after using a city-created East Harlem incubator that provides kitchen space.

Mojica, 31, told Metro that she started the company while juggling two small children, now 4 and 5, after fielding requests for the treats that she would make for her kids’ birthdays.

But her New York City apartment was too small to expand for hundreds of pops, so she found La Marqueta, a city-created project that allows budding entrepreneurs to share kitchen space.

Without that, New York might have not been an easy place to launch the business, she said. “New York is so expensive,” she said, adding that her cramped Inwood apartment would not have allowed as many orders.

Even now, she said, “It’s still very expensive for us,” especially as she and her husband, a jazz pianist, are pondering potential kindergarten spots for their young children.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter: @reporteralison

Follow Metro New York on Twitter: @MetroNewYork


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