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Why Rent Regulation Laws Cause All Sorts Of Terrible Problems

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The New York Times magazine tackles the contentious issue of New York's rent regulation laws. It boils down to this: without them, Manhattan would be an island inhabited solely people who can afford the 432 Parks and One57s of this world, with those in lower income brackets relegated to the far reaches of the outer boroughs. But wait! The current system kinda sucks, too, because much of it hinges on luck and some folks who have been grandfathered into the system live way above the poverty line. That, and the sheer number of rent-regulated units reduces the supply of market-rate units, which drives prices on the latter even farther towards the sky. So whaddaya know? There's no real resolution to this problem.

Maintaining some kind of way for those who don't make millions a year to be able to live in Manhattan is crucial to the fabric of life in the city as we know it. Take the East Village's relentless gentrification, as the author did, as an example. The bodegas there have started selling organic produce and relegated the Goya products, formerly front and center, to the back of the store. Why is that so bad? Here's why:

Home to broke writers and wealthy publishers, starving painters and well-heeled collectors, unproven fashion newcomers and the established houses, and countless other symbiotic pairings, Manhattan has been a place where unlikely ideas can build an audience and, sometimes, dominate the mainstream. For 200 years, the East Village has served as an initial toehold into this chaotic mess... What happens if all the rich people are on one island and the poor but creative are somewhere else? It might just destroy the strange admixture that makes Manhattan so appealing in the first place. No one's got a solution yet, but author Adam Davidson does outline some alternative proposals. But will any of them work for all parties: landlords; developers; politicians; market-rate renters; and those who don't just think the rent is too damn high but can't pay it either? Unlikely. Sorry for the bad news, kids.
· The Perverse Effects of Rent Regulation [NYT Magazine]
· All East Village gentrification coverage [Curbed]