As New York City combats record high levels of homelessness, there will be a new luxury apartment high-rise built in Manhattan. The building will be the tallest residential building in the western hemisphere and will be the second tallest building in New York next to the new One Trade Center. 432 Park Avenue will have 147 different apartments that won’t be occupied year around due to the inconspicuous motifs of their inhabitants. The prices of these apartments will range from 9.7 million 2 bedroom apartments to 95 million dollar penthouses. The entire building will cost 1.25 billion dollars and is expected to raise 3 billion in profits.
As New York struggles with high levels of homelessness, which hasn’t been experience in the city since the Great Depression, this massive monument to the bourgeoisie will prove how shameless capitalism can be. 50,000 people sleep in homeless shelters each night, 21,000 of them are children which constitute a sharp increase from last year. There has been a 61 percent increase in the city’s homeless population since Mayor Bloomberg took office. Mayor Bloomberg, a capitalist elitist, doesn’t care about the homeless or those working class individuals who help the city strive. In 2012 he said,
“We have made our shelter system so much better that, unfortunately, when people are in it, or, fortunately, depending on what your objective is, it is a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before…”
Mayor Bloomberg has also received a lot of criticism for ending the ‘Advantage’ program which helped get families out of homeless shelters and into apartments. These cuts were due to budgetary purposes. Recently, there has been a concerted effort to defund Section 8 housing which also helps low-income families receive affordable housing. The federal sequester placed this program in harm’s way by cutting 120 million from the rental subsidy program. Meanwhile, large bourgeois housing projects are being afforded tax breaks that can cost the city tens of millions of dollars in property taxes. These taxes can be used to help schools or even help fund programs like ‘Advantage’ or help subsidize Section 8 housing that is being threatened by the federal sequester.
New luxury apartments buildings like, 432 Park Avenue, are so expensive they are actually driving the prices of other apartments higher. As you can imagine this further perpetuates the problem of affordable housing and homelessness in the city, making it more difficult for low and average wage workers to afford housing. The massive redistribution of wealth upwards further exacerbates these issues. These apartment complexes will serve Russian oligarchs, Saudi oil magnates, British hedge fund managers and Chinese billionaires while the citizens of New York are packed into ever tightening homeless shelters.
The crisis of capitalism and its excesses create massive amounts of wealth inequality which drives these kinds of outrageous expenditures. Between 2009 and 2011 the top 7 percent of have seen their wealth increase by 28 percent. Meanwhile, the bottom 93 percent have seen their wealth decrease by 4 percent. An economic system that faces homelessness at levels never seen since the 1930’s, plus millions of other homeowners who are struggling to get by while constructing massive luxury apartments needs to be questioned. The greed, corruption and lack of accountability allow these kinds of heartless actions to take place. The ruling bourgeoisie in America and around the world have punished and extorted the people enough. A system which allows these moral crimes to persist must be challenged and demolished.
The more perplexing issue is the coverage by the media. The media glorified these grand monuments to the rich boasting about their costs and amenities without paying attention to the individuals who occupy the homeless shelter down the street. These grave injustices are looked over by a complicit media who adores power, fame and wealth. The luxury high-rise isn’t just a feat in human ingenuity it also exposes bourgeois insensitivity towards the poor and less fortunate.