“Homelessness, inc.”

History seems to be repeating on the Upper West Side.

Whenever real estate stagnates, the industry spies an opening. In a depressed housing market, it has greater purchasing power. Back in the 1990s recession, New York magazine declared, “Small business is no longer the dominant industry on the Upper West Side. Homelessness is.” The city was going broke, yet there was “explosive growth of the social-service sector.”

. . .

Lately, the industry has zeroed in on the neighborhood’s SROs – buildings with “single-room occupancy” apartments. It aims to import and house the most destructive populations it can find – like people with both mental-health problems and drug dependency, a dual diagnosis known in the industry as MICA (for “mentally ill, chemically addicted”).

Craig Newmark

Associate Professor of Economics, North Carolina State Univ.

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