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“Rent too “dag-gon” high.”

Common Council president Darius Pridgen in concerned about rents in the city getting too high. In order to get the message across, Pridgen is producing a series of informational videos that talk about current issues facing residents of the city. In this particular segment, Pridgen discusses the issue of gentrification and rising rents. He starts off by talking about Inclusionary Zoning. Then goes on to talk about a new resolution titled Affordable Rent and Housing (ARH), which was authorized by the Common Council.

ARH will see that a task force is established on the Common Council, which will “work with the best minds in the community that are experiencing rising rents.” Those people will advise the Common Council in ways to control the situation. Pridgen states that while rents are doubling in parts of the city, salaries are not doubling. Therefore, he’s looking for ways to legally incentivize lower rents, and other ways to deal with the issue. Some form of rent control perhaps? Land deals with developers? Inclusionary Zoning (a certain percentage of development dedicated to mid and low income housing) is on the way. Still, Pridgen feels that more needs to be done to combat the rising rents.

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Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • rubagreta

    Rents are going up on the East Side? Really?

    • Dylan Burns

      We cannot allow lifelong residents to be pushed out of their homes, relegating those with lower incomes to one section of the city. Diverse communities are strong communities.

      • distas

        Gentrification=diversity.

      • rubagreta

        Baloney. As soon as someone living on the East Side has enough money to move to another neighborhood, they can move to another neighborhood. Just like the poor Poles and others who moved to Buffalo 100 years ago.

      • rubagreta

        Lots of these lifelong residents are thrilled that they can sell their houses for more than 25K, which was the price not that long ago.

        • Dylan Burns

          And there are plenty that do not want to be forced to sell their homes because they cannot afford to pay the tax on the increased assessment value. Those are the people that we need to think about.

          • distas

            That’s a reasonable concern, although i’m not sure how much assessments actually go up without a sale of the property taking place first. I would hope senior citizens would have an appeals process to freeze their assessments.

          • Dylan Burns

            It might take several years after gentrification has permeated an entire community before it gets hit with a reassessment, but it’s only a matter of time before it happens. A certain amount of gentrification is necessary for a city like Buffalo, but we just need to make sure that we don’t let it get too crazy. It has the power to equally reward and hurt the people who stayed in the city through thick and thin.

          • rubagreta

            How much are the property taxes on a $100,000 house in the City of Buffalo?

          • Dylan Burns

            About $3,500, based on the median property tax rate for the city.

          • distas

            no way. more like $2k.

          • Dylan Burns
          • Brian Eberle

            These numbers seem to be for Erie County as a whole. The City of Buffalo Homestead tax rate is $17.87/1000, Sewer is $1.66/1000, and county is $5.39/1000. Totals just about $24.92/1000.

          • Brian Eberle

            My House is assessed at $111,000 and my 2016 taxes came to $2,511 including County, City and Sewer. Add another $220 if you want to factor the User fee. Your number is inflated.

          • OldFirstWard

            Are you receiving the STAR tax credit?

          • American

            I have similar numbers. My friends in Tonawanda and Hamburg pay nearly twice as much for the same size home.

          • EZ Liv’in

            My house is assessed at 63k I pay $1500-1600 total in the city. I had a house in the burbs I was paying $3700 + on a 83k assessment the city is a bargain. I can see my assessment going up a 100% still a bargain. When I bought my house in 2009 it was assessed at 26k.

          • D Dee

            Dylan your grasping at straws. House value and assessments make people realize that they can get big bucks for their property and many want to cash out. There are a few who gripe looking for the “old neighborhood” which cannot be brought back.

      • D Dee

        If they are renters then they will move. Government should stay out of business. It’s an illusion that people can stay in financially improved neighborhood. Everything will increase in price too all around the property. Government has to stay out unless we revert to socialism?

    • distas
      • rubagreta

        But most of the West Side is not.

        If the rents were the same as they were 15 years ago, it would be a reflection of a dying and decaying city. Rents rising are a good sign of economic health. And if you can’t afford to live in the Near East Side or lower West Side, find another neighborhood. Much of Buffalo is still very cheap.

        • distas

          I agree 100%

        • Mr. B

          “Rents rising are a good sign of economic health”

          . . . for people who can afford them. For those who can’t and are forced onto the street, not so much . . .

          .

          • nesciand

            Their not forced out into the street… their forced into a different apartment. Don’t be over dramatic. If they wanted the security of living in the same neighborhood their entire lives they should have bought.

      • Josh Robinson

        I live in the Lower West Side and it’s crazy how much real estate and rents have shot up in the last 5 years.

        • HousingBubble2

          Agreed! Lower west side is still a very dangerous place to live an bad value, especially when paying 300k plus for a home with no parking. We don’t live in Boston or NYC. It is ridiculous.

          • No_Illusions

            Are you even ever in the Westside?

            The place has cleaned up significantly these past 15 years.

            There is still work to be done, but people wouldn’t be buying property and moving there if it was as bad as you say.

          • HousingBubble2

            Yes genius. There are still people getting stabbed and shot on the lower west side and east side on the reg. Not a place I want to spend 300K for home with off street parking.

          • Terrier1

            So don’t buy there.
            Housing is all based on supply and demand. If a home sells for 300K, that means someone believed it was worth it.
            Just not you.

          • HousingBubble2

            there are millions of people that believed their homes were worth more than they were before the housing crash in 2007 and then defaulted on their mortgages. Please come back down to reality.

          • Wise Profit

            The value of the home is irrelevant. I could buy a house and the next day the value is cut in half, that doesn’t mean anything unless I sell it. Until that time you have the same exact payment you did from the onset under a standard 30-yr mortgage. So as long as people aren’t getting mortgages they shouldn’t qualify for (which is another argument entirely) then it is a moot point.

          • HousingBubble2

            My friend you are comparing little Podunk Buffalo to major metropolitan areas with millions and millions of people.

            What about all of the other small, midsize cities that are cheaper than we are at this point? Please name a city with the same population and population growth that has more expensive housing??! Not to mention our taxes equal our mortgage payments in some areas.

            You seem to just want to disagree and debate for the sake of the debating when all of this is just common sense type stuff.

            I will await your response.

          • Wise Profit

            “We don’t live in Boston or NYC”
            You’re right and that’s why the houses aren’t $750,000 or higher as you’d find in Boston or NYC. We are still so far off of those markets in terms of prices that your comment shows your lack of understanding of reality.
            I was just in Boston. They have a new apartment building with apartments up to $7,000 per month. You find me an apartment at $7,000 per month in Buffalo and get back to me.
            And those $300,000 homes are the exception, not the rule. Many homes are still very affordable at under $200,000.

          • HousingBubble2

            all it takes is a few people to start walking away from their homes and you will have a major correction. These are the fundamentals like them or not. You are a 25 yr old liberal hipster; the only thing you know is low interest rates and Obama. You have never experienced the peeks and valleys of life….but you will.

          • Wise Profit

            “all it takes is a few people to start walking away from their homes”
            Yeah okay. Go on Zillow and look at how many foreclosed homes are in Buffalo that are coming back on the market. Its a lot more than a “few” people and alas the Buffalo home price apocalypse is not upon us.
            And your statement is true if many people are using ARMs, which many do not. Rates could go up 3, 4, 5 times over and if you’ve locked your low rate on a mortgage it remains unchanged and just as affordable.

  • distas

    Stop interfering with the free market. Higher rents are the price one pays for a nice neighborhood sometimes. If you weren’t smart enough to buy property when our housing market was bottomed out over the past 40 years then tough cookies.

    • D Dee

      I have to agree with you. We are in a free market and home prices have gone way up. Rents are dictated by house costs. The city will recoup the increase in tax assessments when they reassess. Although the one thing Buffalo should address is the absentee out of state investors who own massive amounts of Buffalo rental property. They are the ones who really are driving up rents. A Toronto investor group owns 100s of RIverside rental properties and has consistently raised rents. They have not really improved the properties. Perhaps there is a place to start?

      • HousingBubble2

        and guess what, they are going to dump all those homes the minute they discover they are still worthless. Buffalo is not a major metro area. We are the same size as Toldeo Ohio.

        • No_Illusions

          Not true at all.

          Toledo has a metro area of 600,000 or about the same size of Syracuse

          Buffalo has a metro nearly twice that at 1.2 million. 1.6 million if you include St Catharines-Niagara next door.

          Also size has nothing to do with it. As with suburbanization which saw the transfer of wealth from the city to the suburbs, we’re now seeing the opposite of that.

          As long as the next generation wants to live in urban environments, this trend is sustainable.

          • HousingBubble2

            Not true at all. The population in the city of Buffalo is only 262,000 residents and our population is still declining. The housing boom in Buffalo is all smoke and mirrors predicated on developers lining their pockets with free market tax credits. I am thrilled to see development, but the market is saturated and values will come down with increasing interest rates. It is simple math.

            Please state your source that our population is increasing in the city of Buffalo.

          • Wise Profit

            “The housing boom in Buffalo is all smoke and mirrors predicated on developers lining their pockets”
            You realize that thousands upon thousands of homes have been sold to ordinary residents in the past 3-5 years that don’t involve developers in any way, right? Is that all smoke and mirrors too? Or just the developers paying people to go buy up all these houses in formerly distressed neighborhoods?

          • HousingBubble2

            People buy homes based on what is going on around them plus affordability. Are you telling me when affordability decreases because of higher interest rates that the price of the home won’t drop? This is very basic.

          • Wise Profit

            Not quite so basic. You have to also look at home prices here relative to other places. If rates increase then you’re right, value goes down, on paper and in a financial or economics textbook. But if we’re still far more affordable than other parts of the area and country (which we are) than the rise in interest rates could have a negligible affect on values, or at least less of an affect than in an place like NYC, Boston or Silicon Valley where values are already very high.

          • American

            Population dropped 1.2% from 2010-2015. This is a much lower drop than the previous 5 decades, but too soon to declare a trend of slowing decline or stabilization.

    • eagercolin

      Housing isn’t a “free market.” There are already tons of interventions in the market. Most of those interventions are to the benefit of property owners. If you’d like to say “everything for the owners, and to heck with the renters” then go ahead, but don’t frame it in terms of some imaginary free market.

      • distas

        I agree there are a lot of programs for homeowners. There are also quite a few programs for low income homeowners, which is why i don’t feel bad if a renter didn’t buy in the most affordable city in the country when they easily could have. Renters are only borrowing the property until the owner decides its time to leave.

      • HousingBubble2

        Free market tax credit and low interest rates artificially drove up the price of housing. It will correct soon

      • Wise Profit

        What are those benefits you speak of? City of Buffalo in the past year has shown quite clearly low-income renters will take precedent over property owners.

  • D Dee

    Mr. Pridgen now that the City of Buffalo is a hot market again those that cannot afford the Trendy city will be forced to move to the suburbs who are seeing rents stagnant or lowering because everyone wants to live in the city. Rental property is hot. Prices are doubling and very competitive. Look at the real estate advertisements? We are not NYC. As areas are rehabilitated the prices go up. That is progress. Did all you common council people think it would remain the same after you improved the area? What were you thinking???

  • BeatHarvard

    Wow, this is staggeringly stupid. Buffalo has some of the cheapest rents in the country. Increasing rents are a good thing…

    • Rational Thought

      If the city of Buffalo wished to fix their declining population problem, they better figure out a way a lower rents. Cities all over the US are losing people to the Suburbs. One of the major reasons why is rent cost.

      http://www.wsj.com/articles/suburbs-outstrip-cities-in-population-growth-study-finds-1480766402

      • No_Illusions

        That’s because it’s become too popular and too expensive to live in city centers. Buffalo is lucky that there are so many dirt cheap neighborhoods near downtown and a good portion of the city is a near blank slate for development.

        Most cities don’t have room for new development.

      • Wise Profit

        The city is vastly cheaper to live in (with the exception of top of the line apartments in the best locations) than almost any suburb in Erie County simply because of the low-low tax rate, so I just don’t know what you’re talking about. And if you wanted to get the same top of the line apartment in the burbs you’re going to pay a lot for it just the same.

  • Buffalove

    The issue is that gentrification – in the form of younger people and trendier businesses moving into a neighborhood – will always precede increasing incomes of the residents. It’s a double-edged sword – you push for economic development in the poorer neighborhoods, but many of the residents get pushed out before they can reap the benefits. They’re moved to new neighborhoods, and the cycle continues. I don’t know what the answer is, especially because I’m fully in favor of the free market and not controlling rent, but you have to have sympathy for the people being affected and find a way to change that.

    • eagercolin

      The answer is to stop thinking in terms of improving neighborhoods and start thinking of improving things for the people who live there. The solution to a poor neighborhood isn’t to replace the poor people with wealthier ones. It’s to turn poor people into wealthier ones. That’s true economic development, and there’s precious little of it happening.

      • distas

        Unfortunately no one is willing or able to address it, but you are spot on.

        • No_Illusions

          I think the new Workforce Development center on the Eastside will be key to help accomplish this.

          Same goes for Say Yes and similar programs.

          However, still doesn’t help the elderly or the disabled.

          • Moderate Democrat

            Good luck with that. A long time ago I went to BETC and you know what they helped me with? Nothing. The only jobs they were worried about were their own. Maybe times are different now but I doubt it.

      • BlackRockLifer

        Well said

  • BuffaLife

    I get that he has to look out for his constituents, but also consider that there are affordable housing options available in areas that are benefiting from that same gentrification he’s blaming rising rents on. No one signs a lease for an apartment and expects rent to remain what it is for years.

  • When will government learn that meddling with the market does far more harm than good?

    • BufChester

      The issue is that the government is always going to be doing things that impact the market. There wouldn’t be all these new high end apartments coming on line if the ECIDA weren’t transferring part of the tax burden from the developers doing them to everyone else in the community to make it profitable for the developers. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing, but it’s naive to think that the government doesn’t inevitably effect markets.

      • It’s naive to think I don’t realize that government affects markets. My original statement is that they shouldn’t. No subsidies, tax breaks, price controls, etc.

      • phj

        Do ypu even have a clue how bad our taxes are around here as a percentage of value? Vestiges of having huge repetitive governments and social programs . Actually just so your technically correct ecida has virtually nothing to do with apartments. Historic tax credits and the 485-a tax exemption are what is used not ecida . Ultimately after 12 years there is full taxes. Truth is there is probably a net gain in tax revenue to government and a transference of burden to developers in the short run. In the long run however if there is no real economic growth, ..properties ..sticky at first ..values will lower and there will be no net increase in values/assessments and tax revenues. Lets hope with a better looking Buffalo cbd that it can spur real growth by attracting and keeping more jobs for region.

        • BufChester

          Actually the ECIDA does support residential conversions – http://www.ecidany.com/adaptive-reuse.

          I am making a case pro or con for this program, merely pointing out that the government is already involved in the market.

  • Nick C

    Mr Pridgen, as a landlord of section 8 housing units in the city of Buffalo , this topic interests me. Owning on Elmwood Ave, we have decided to sustain our units to rent to lower income tenants vs redevelopment, however had to pay more for the property therefore causing rents to increase due to economics. The increase is about $125/month per unit. I’d be interested to learn about the guaranteed income the council will supplant to bridge this gap, but implore your council to encourage partial payments to those who are work force eligible, because their character will emulate someone who truly deserves the incentives since they are working hard and learning skills in our community and not taking a free ride. Too many times I deal with tenants asking if I accept this program or that, but don’t see their individual efforts to ever want to leave these programs! Please consider such balance for “Able-body workers” . Oh yeah and by the way, the ones with character actually take care of the units the best! Go figure! When the programs focus on moving the individuals into the workforce in a timely manner, everybody wins…

  • OldFirstWard

    From the best debate I’ve ever seen, the 2010 NY Gubernatorial Debate starring Jimmy McMillan.

  • Craig Jacob

    The high city property taxes are one of the causes. Maybe should freeze city spending and taxes.

    • greenca

      The city’s taxes are the lowest in the area,. about half the rate of the suburban towns. The city’s taxes have been frozen for about 4 or 5 years. Get a clue.

      • Craig Jacob

        While I agree with you in that the taxes we’re paying in Buffalo are lower than the suburban towns. I’m very aware that the property tax rates in all of New York rank the highest in the nation. When you compare Buffalo’s rates to other area of the nation we rank near the top. We shouldn’t have to compare our tax rates to the worst performing town in the nation to find somewhere were doing better than.

  • HousingBubble2

    Both rents and housing prices have been artificially inflated by low interest rate policy in our country for the last 8 years, which hipster millennials know nothing about. The fact is there is very little to no job growth, no population growth and no wage increase in the city of Buffalo to support these values and rents when interest rates go back up, and they are doing as we speak!

    Our local housing market will correct once the 30 yr mortgage hits 5%….and many people will default on their lines of credit and their mortgages.

    • No_Illusions

      Neither was there in the 50s and 60s when the suburb exploded in growth, while jobs were moving out of Buffalo en masse.

      What you’re seeing now is the opposite.

      Also, rent and homes are still ridiculously cheap. You can talk about bubbles when average rent is $1,500 and the average home goes for above $300,000.

      Also, population in the metro area has been increasing these past few years and unemployment is at its lowest point in nearly 15 years.

      • HousingBubble2

        we have debated this topic many times. Our wages and economy here do not support our rents or housing prices. Taxes are being reassessed in the city. GAME OVER!

        • Wise Profit

          You realize that reassessments do not increase taxes on everyone, but rather shift the assessment to more in demand locations, right? Assessments split the pie, they have no bearing on how big the pie is.
          And you don’t seem to understand monetary policy (Fed Reserve) and fiscal policy (POTUS) are controlled by two different groups. Or that the Fed doesn’t control long term rates. Or that an increase in rates generally coincides with higher returns in markets thus offsetting higher rates for borrowing.
          Please show me the math on why wages here don’t support rent or housing prices as well.

        • BuffaloGals

          “you must be a millennial.” Grow up, man. It amazes me how many bitter old people have nothing better to do than blame all the world’s problems on a generation that they raised.

  • Ellie

    Mr. Pridgen is clearly mistaken when he states that Buffalo never had rent control.
    Specifically Bonnie May in room 438 in Ellicott Square building worked in New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION.

    New York State Real Property Tax Law section 1803-1805 also protects NYS property owners from high assessment increases. This law is only selectively enforced in New York City, like the Uber Laws, in my opinion.

  • LongGoneeee

    Nothing more than a money and power grab by the poverty brokers in the city. Maybe if they didn’t spend $400,000 to create ‘affordable’ units there would be resources out there to improve the thousands upon thousands of empty and underutilized existing units in the city.