Housing Inequality in New York City: First Attempt at Understanding the Issue
Doris Diether, 87, keeps a growing stack of newspaper clippings of ultra expensive homes for sale in the West Village—even though she is not a prospective buyer.
She lives in the rent-controlled basement apartment of 107 Waverly Place, a townhouse one block away from Washington Square Park. She took her landlord to court for his attempt to pressure her out.
“There used to be eight units in this building. I’m the only one who fought back,” Diether said. “This is happening all over the city.”
Across the street from Diether, 116 Washington Place is on the market for $26,500,000. Brown Harris Stevens, an affiliate of Christie’s International Realty, describes the townhouse as an “exceptionally renovated six-story single family mansion.”
While this asking price may be a free market bonanza for the owner, Diether sees it as part of a troubling trend. As a key ally of the late Jane Jacobs, a legendary activist for small-scale communities, Diether said that the health of the neighborhood depends on diversity, including the income levels of its residents. Jacobs proposed this concept in her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Diether takes credit for tipping Jacobs off to Robert Moses’ plan to turn Washington Square Park into a roadway. Diether’s most recent battle included successfully organizing musicians to block the city’s attempt to bar them from performing in Washington Square Park.
Here are are few more articles about Diether’s civic activism.
- A Fighter for Tenants Relaces Her Gloves
- Council Honors Doris Diether
- The Grand Dame of New York City Land Use
This interactive map can give a sense of the scale of how many rent-controlled apartments, like Diether’s, are being lost in the West Village and throughout the city.
One thing to keep in mind, the data for the map is based on the tax receipts of the landlords. Unfortunately, there are an unknown number of incidents where an owner will sell his building to someone else and the new owner will keep the rent control status of the apartments on the books, but charge the tenants market rate.