Honorable mensch’un for Ravitch
What is a Mensch? I wanted to get this right so I did a little research. The online Urban Dictionary says: “The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than … a sense of what is right, responsible.” (emphasis added).
I’m casting my vote for Richard Ravitch, the owner of Waterside Plaza, who proposed a plan to the city that would freeze or roll back rents of some residents who are paying a burdensome portion of their income – defined as more than 30 percent — for rent (“Affordability deal proposed for Waterside,” T&V, Aug. 9).
I was in college when the Waterside development was announced and served as a student member of an ad-hoc committee convened by the school to explore how this new, middle income housing complex would impact the college and how the college might best prepare to serve this population of potential new students. I’m quite certain I contributed very little to the discussions, but people much smarter than myself recognized the ripple effect and saw the opportunities and challenges before them.
In July 2017, amNY ran an article about a team of people sent door-to-door to identify/educate eligible people of the SCRIE program and to assist them in the application process. I carried that article around with me for a long time waiting for a free moment to reach out to the reporters and sent the following comments: “…one of the criteria necessary to be eligible for SCRIE is that your rent must exceed 1/3 of your income. The problem is that being eligible for SCRIE does not then roll your rent back to within 1/3 of your income.”
Rent increases, part of life in NYC, are due to a sometimes-unkind Rent Guidelines Board and exacerbated by a DHCR that rubber stamps Major Capital Improvement applications with little regard for the value, validity and long-term impact on affordability in our city. By the time most seniors apply/are eligible, their rent has already crept up to a barely manageable level so to freeze it at that point is of little help. These are people living on a fixed income… some living solely on Social Security benefits. But even those who have a small monthly pension often find themselves strapped. And while SCRIE does indeed freeze an eligible applicant’s rent and exempt them from further MCI rent increases, it’s just too little, too late.
I’m not going to pretend to know all of Mr. Ravitch’s history or how his good decisions and not-so-good ones have balanced out over the years, but this week he showed us that you can be a successful business person in our city without hurting its citizens.
Our elected representatives in both city and state government should take a page out of Mr. Ravitch’s book, get creative, get down to work and show that they too understand and are willing to take on the challenges of the ripple effects that ensue when profits are put before people. It is, after all, people who make good neighborhoods either by constructing them or by living in them and contributing to the good health of the community at large.
Stuyvesant Town and Waterside Plaza, though many years apart in their creation, have unique histories and were based on a most noble mission. Today, more than ever, that mission needs to be respected, protected and replicated.
Jo-Ann Polise, ST
Uniting against the grey menace
Thanks very much, Maria Rocha-Buschel, for your editorial on one of our community’s most profound dangers. I know how you feel. I have in the past modestly proposed my own swift solution to the squirrel problem.
I am elated that you include pigeons in your current complaint; it’s not just squirrels we should fear. Only a few days ago a bird flew not far from my head which gave me the shivers for my sight, indeed, for my life. Upon further reflection I understood this was only a small part of a greater danger: all birds, whether pigeons, or sparrows, blue jays, robins, woodpeckers, among so many others around here, are actually flying terrorists waiting for an opportunity to strike.
Then, before I knew it, I found myself holding a fledgling in my hand, chirping away, expecting me to show mercy when its brethren had the temerity to frighten me. I watched it struggle, but I was not to be lulled into gullibility by its veil of adorableness, or to give in to sentimentality or the temptation to see this creature as a friendly and needful being. I understood it was, in fact, an alien flock member. I knew what this creature was about, so I prevented it from eating and drinking for minutes, which turned to hours, then days — oops; it turned out to be a dream.
But fortunately it was an instructive dream which has inspired me to make another modest proposal whereby all people who fear for their lives from these migrants with notions of being able to share the urban space with us, go around the city trashing bird feeders when and wherever they find them, and tackle and shackle any human beings seen feeding birds. Better yet, handsomely reward those who capture birds in nets and cull them en masse.
Of course, this applies to squirrels as well. The political winds are with us. We will smite these unwanted migrants from afar and the two miscreants already among us.
Let fear show us the way!
William Kelly, ST