Must We Be Driven From Our Home?

Dear  Bklyner,

I’m concerned about the proposed real estate tax hike that is targeted at Park Slope.  As my wife and approach retirement age, we are wondering if retirement will be possible with an onerous real estate tax bill hanging over our home on 11th Street.

Twenty five years, sweat equity, and dedication to our community won’t count when we get lumped in with wealthy recent arrivals and charged a wealth tax on our modest middle class home.  This proposed plan is based on market values (see ).  The market for our modest town house is driven by extraordinary forces that speak more to New York’s status as a global city than local demand. Must we be driven from our home because the City sees income from taxing international elites seeking to park their millions in Park Slope town houses?

Also, is this drive to find new revenue related to A-421 tax breaks for real estate developers? How many affordable housing units have been built?  Is this another boondoggle for developers to feed international demand for luxury apartments in NYC that will leave the poor still on the street, the middle class paying the bill, and the real barons living tax-free?


Tom Harrington

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  1. Tom Harrington is right on the mark. People like him (and I) throughout the borough saved it from becoming the South Bronx and are now being punished for it. Remember that in those days the mortgage interest rates were also astronomical, and the financing of working and middle-class cleansing is at virtually negative rates only the the richest (corporate) borrowers. For some insight into this tragedy, I recommend reading Race, Class, and Gentrification in Brooklyn: A View from the Street. that I wrote with Judith N. DeSena. 2016. Paperback 2018. In a sense, read and weep.

  2. I would certainly oppose any tax plan that drove people from their homes, but the people living in single family homes like brownstones have been free-riding on the property taxes paid by owners of apartments and indirectly by renters. This isnt about development or international “elites”, it is about fairness. People buying apartments shouldnt be forced to pay a massively higher property tax rate than those in houses because decades ago the city wanted to keep homeowners from leaving. In fact in the face of climate change, there is a strong argument that single family homes should pay a higher tax – but we will settle for a consistent fair rate across all housing types

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