Middle class housing projects are the Bay Area's future

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F@#k it, I’m moving to Panama, I heard that’s where all the money is.


Bring mosquito repellant, you’re going to need it.


A colleague recently was showing me apartments in Brooklyn in the area where I work (admittedly a pretty great neighborhood) where the legally-required “affordable housing” units in a new construction had an income cap of $90,000. That seemed laughably high to me, but I guess there are places where the laughter is louder still…


Speaking from experience, and also with a lot of city planning research backing me up:

Do not do what Chicago did. Do not assume that middle class families will need to lead a middle class suburban lifestyle in order to not decamp for the suburbs as soon as the first kid is born. Particularly detrimental is requiring a specific equation of parking spaces for all new construction. City streets cannot support that many more cars on the roads, and it quickly makes the urban experience into a nightmare. A middle class family lifestyle in the city needs to be supported by public transportation, biking lanes, and pedestrian-first traffic choices. And, obviously, good public schools.

People chose to live in different environments (when they have the choice) based on their own preferences. Make a city into a livable urban environment and there will be plenty of families who would prefer a smaller living space and no yard to maintain in exchange for all a city has to offer. Try to make it into a bad version of the suburbs, and it doesn’t work for anyone.


It’s all relative. Once you subtract taxes from that salary, the net amount would mean rent would be around 75% of that take-home pay in NYC.


Middle…cl…aha. Ahahaha. Ha ha ha. Son, you must be joke.

75k/year is the top of the middle class.

Anything higher than that and guess what? You’re in the top 20% of the earners in this country.

You want teachers? Garbage people? Factory workers? You’re not getting six-digit incomes. Period.

Personal pet peeve: wealthy people assuming that (some large amount) is actually “Middle Class” because they have no goddamn perspective. That’s part of what causes stuff like this - the assumption that wages are much more evenly distributed than they actually happen to be.


Toronto Life loves loves loves to showcase these people and explain endlessly how they’re “not rich”, its a constant source of “amusement” in Toronto. (And likely why everyone hates us…)


Not a fair example!!!

North America has been shafting teachers for decades, all while vilifying them to the Trumpunists for their long holidays and union protection.

Our culture values the contribution of a third rate athlete more than even the best incubator of young minds. It’s sick, and it will be our downfall.

We expect teachers to do scary amounts of work “for the love of it”, but fear that executives won’t get out of bed for less than $5M + benefits :disappointed_relieved:


Yeah, no, I make less than that and am in pretty solidly white collar work, and pay a healthy chunk of my income to live in an outer-borough cave. I didn’t mean to say that in NYC people making $90,000 aren’t hurting for housing, my point is the same as Cory’s: If it takes the full force of housing regulations to strong-arm new construction into include affordable housing to people who by all accounts are doing decently well, what does that mean for everyone under that line?


I lived in the East Bay while attending grad school and working full time - for far less than $145,650! The only way I could swing it was by living in my RV. And I am a programmer.


Personal pet peeve: poor people assuming that (some large amount) is actually (a large amount). My grandfather made the equivalent of 250k a year working a crappy factory job (not management) back in the day. My father made more in the 70’s than he does today due to inflation. 250k a year is middle class. I’ll note that I’m not there.

The fact that so few people actually make that money doesn’t make it less ‘middle class’. HINT: You can have a society where there IS no middle class - we are very very close to that now. Stop thinking crap wages are good - and frankly if you took the profit margin for enterprise - and shrunk it to 1940’s-1960’s levels - and then took that ‘extra’ and made it into wages - then we’d be back to having a middle class.


You’re right, but you also have to acknowledge that there is no national number you can put on that in the US, since costs of living vary so widely. For example, if you live in the suburbs (20-60 minutes from downtown), depending on what city they are suburbs of, a well-maintained 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom, 1300 sq ft home can cost anywhere from $50k to over $1M.

Also, top 20% nationally starts at $92k per household (the relevant metric for the price of a home), and by most analysis “upper class” starts at around the 80th percentile and “middle class” starts at around the 30th percentile. And keep in mind that most people are living in two income households. Two teachers in NY state in their first year with master’s degrees will earn over 100k household income. Ditto two garbage people earning the average salary in NYC, or two unionized automotive factory workers. Note that in all three cases this is only possible where there are strong unions negotiating to maintain middle class salaries.

Also: I live in the suburbs of Boston. Depending on which county you live in, you can get state subsidized mortgages if your household earns almost $130k (though there are more generous programs for people who are actually poor) to buy a home up to a $417k loan amount.


I agree with you there. But actual regulations to help anyone who isn’t in the 0.1-0.01% is such a huge first step, I guess I was seeing the glass as partly full.

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It would be fascinating to get a graph (suitably anonymized, of course) of bOINGbOING reader/commenter incomes.

Some of y’all are nearly incomprehensibly alien in your outlook and assumptions, and I’ve been blaming it on California, but maybe it’s just wealth.


You’ve expressed my thoughts much better than I did. That’s exactly it: what WAS middle class (I’m a Baby Boomer, so I remember what it was like) is now nearly non-existent. The fact that such a high percentage of our population is barely scraping by, despite education and hard work, is shameful. That’s not the yardstick to use when talking about something being middle class.


Or maybe it’s age, or knowledge of history.

Or even just the awareness that the cost of living in the Midwest does not compare to the cost of living in NYC, SF, or LA.


Start a poll!


Yeah, it could be any number of things, I’m just flailing around in the dark.

I have deadlines today, man, I shouldn’t be here now!


What it means has been a mass displacement of the middle class and poor outwards towards Long Island, Upstate NY and Northern NJ. Which in turn has caused price spikes in homes with convenient commuting to the city. Middle class people have to put up with longer commutes in order to afford housing. It has also caused a buying craze in some of the shittiest neighborhoods of the boroughs (except the Bronx, that place appears to be kryptonite for developers and real estate agents).

What is especially galling about the rise in property prices/rent in NYC is how much of it is buoyed by foreign money laundering and investment in properties meant for part time use. Money is injected into the market and full time residents are pushed out in favor of people looking for pied-a-teres and places to park money corruptly siphoned off the GDP of their countries. It has also created commercial dead zones where commercial landlords jack up rents in order to attract more expensive tenants, which in many cases don’t come.