A question I hear a lot when I’m talking about homelessness in New York, is: “why don’t the homeless just stay in shelters?” It is more complex than many New Yorkers imagine–both the problems and the purported solutions. For me, the more important question is: ‘why shelters at all?’
As someone who has spent a lot of time with the homeless–as a volunteer EMT and as someone who lived on the streets for 3 nights–I know firsthand how we have failed our homeless population. Providing shelters, both private and public, may seem like a solution for those who aren’t homeless, but for those who are, there are systemic problems. I agree with them, and here’s why:
In 2015, incidents officially labeled as “violent” included 153 assaults, 65 cases of child abuse, 174 domestic violence incidents, and 90 allegations of sexual assault involving residents.
It’s no better in “cluster” shelters (private apartments and hotels converted to house the homeless) either. Though cluster shelters may have fewer incidences of violence, they’re often rat-infested, poorly managed (if managed at all), and lacking in basic accommodations like clean water. Because these shelters are privately-owned and exempt from fines, the incentive to address safety and health violations are lost on the owners and the city. Cluster landlords are not contractually bound to follow DHS’ lead. So, the residents have no recourse.
The conditions are so bad that Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned the Department of Investigation (DOI) to investigate. The DOI spent four months inspecting 25 homeless shelters across the city, interviewed occupants and landlords, and evaluated the sites based on cleanliness, management, and integrity.
In the five clusters investigated across multiple boroughs including Queens and Brooklyn, the DOI found a total of 223 violations from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), Department of Buildings (DOB), and Department of Housing Preservation and Development since 2012. Hotel cluster shelter facilities didn’t fare any better with 168 violations.
According to the DOI findings, “At its worst, DHS is turning a blind eye to violations that threaten the lives of shelter residents.”
According to de Blasio, alleviating the homeless problem is a marathon, not a sprint. Patience is the key, “We will make progress, but it will be incremental. It will be slow,” he said. “I’m not going to lie to the people of New York City that we have an end in sight.”
But is the end really in sight? Maybe not the way we’ve been doing it. I suspect that the path to housing the homeless is the one less traveled: get them off the street by giving them a means to support themselves.
Subsidized housing–Provide the homeless a pathway to sheltering themselves
Job training — Training, whether in a trade or resume-building, to provide a pathway for them to support themselves
In my experience, people who are homeless aren’t living on the streets because they chose to do so. Usually, they hit some bad times and ended up there. In fact, New Yorkers are roughly one paycheck away from being homeless because of loss of a job or some sort of injury. They want to work, they want housing, and they want to support themselves in order to get it. We should give them the means to do that. With the money we’re about to pour into building more shelters — something that has been proven not to work — there is an opportunity to enact a system that may work. And 2017 is as good a year as any to start investing in our homeless fellows.
Dan Neiditch is the president of River 2 River Realty, Inc., a real estate business that offers diverse real estate services for customers in New York and beyond. Neiditch learned the industry through his real estate family business and has gone on to procure, develop, and revitalize real estate developments on a much larger scale than his family ever thought possible.
Under Dan Neiditch’s stewardship, his family’s business has grown into a multibillion dollar real estate empire — acquiring $1 billion in real estate holdings to date. Today, River 2 River Realty is part of multiple prestigious organizations on both local and national levels. The Real Estate Board of New York, REBNY Listing Service, National Association of Realtors have all welcomed River 2 River Realty as a member. Dan uses these exciting memberships to help customers get access to the latest and greatest properties available in New York. The business’ ties with national organizations also helps sellers expand their outreach across the country.
Because Dan grew up surrounded by a real estate-savvy family, he and his family have amassed a total of 70 years of experience — which Dan Neiditch brings to customers who are overwhelmed or uninformed about the many aspects of the market.
Now, best known as president of the Atelier Condos in Manhattan (which boasts solar panels, the tallest swimming pool and tennis courts, and celebrity tenants), Dan Neiditch is an experienced leader in New York’s dynamic real estate market. Atelier is one of Daniel’s greatest accomplishments as a leader in real estate.
With his vision in mind for the redevelopment of the property located on West 42nd Street in New York City, Neiditch offers Atelier tenants an unbeatable view of the city. It overlooks the Hudson River to the west, and residents can see the iconic Empire State Building and Times Square from their homes.
Though attributed with an impressive business acumen, Dan is also passionate about charity work. Dan uses his experience in River 2 River Realty, Inc. to help those in need. A hands-on philanthropist, Dan Neiditchnot only donates funds to various organizations, he travels to disadvantaged countries abroad, and volunteers as an on-call EMT locally in New York City.
Dan devotes a lot of his philanthropic efforts to funding the basic medical and personal care that every child deserves. He provides financial donations to children who need lifesaving organ transplant surgeries. One of Dan’s most fulfilling experiences was traveling to Africa with an organization that provided doctors for children who needed medical attention. He also contributes to organizations that provide important necessities for the homeless and has personally helped them find employment opportunities.
As a businessman and philanthropist, Dan Neiditch chooses his professional and personal projects with a careful, deliberate, and a thoughtful outlook — thus making him a recognizable figure in the real estate industry within New York and beyond. Neiditch’s articles on real estate, philanthropy, and business have appeared on the likes of Huffington Post .
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I have a lot of meetings in a day — high level and day-to-day level meetings. As someone who likes to be involved with every aspect of my business, I meet with agents, contractors, and building management to get updates on our properties. Do we need to work on our pricing? Are the contractors hitting deadlines? What other investments can we make, get rid of, expand, etc.
I have my head and my hands in everything, so I rarely take notes. I like to be present and listen and see what’s going on, so I try to keep track of everything in my head when I can.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have a group of people who are constantly bringing me ideas. But before I choose to turn an idea into a reality, I crunch numbers. As an investor, entrepreneur, or businessman, you have to learn to love numbers. Without being able to calculate what ideas make sense to build, you’re already starting out in the negative.
I never jump until I know that the cost structure is solid, the tax implications are attractive, etc. — then, I buy, build, or pass.
What trend excites you?
Solar energy excites and inspires me, which is why Atelier has solar panels installed. It’s the highest building in NYC with solar panels, and that’s something I’m really proud of. I’m always looking for new ways to introduce solar power into New York. I think we could do a lot better. As a city with 8 million people, we need to do better. We consume too much energy not to.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
It’s more a discipline that became a habit: consistency. I practice due diligence in everything I do but especially in my business. I wouldn’t be able to lead anything, much less a successful business, if I weren’t consistent.
More than anything, being consistent and even-keeled makes people trust you. No one trusts someone who’s always changing his mind. Nothing tears down trust and confidence from your staff and clients more than that.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Your first decision is usually the right one. Stick to your gut and don’t let other people dissuade you from what you want to do.
Tell us something that is true that no one agrees with you on.
I see a lot of investors who don’t take risks. Before I took over the family real estate business, my grandfather and father played things pretty safe. They bought real estate only in the Bronx where my grandfather grew up, and only complexes with a specific number of units. They were also really against leveraging debt or taking risks.
And they’re not alone. Even today, people are afraid to take risks, but I always have and do. When people are afraid to buy, I buy; a lot of people won’t do that.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Never stop studying or learning — about your market, your industry, whatever it is you do. You can’t make good decisions if you don’t study trends. To paraphrase Warren Buffett, what we’ve learned from history is that we never learn from history. In other words, don’t just study trends forward, study the trends in your industry that came before, and figure out what mistakes people made in the past.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
There are two related strategies that have helped me grow my business: being aggressive and being proactive. I’m always looking for new projects because I like being ahead of the curve; I have to be if I want to build and maintain a successful venture. Once I have my head fixed on something, I go for it. I go all in. I think aggressiveness is a lot like having a positive attitude in that you know for a fact you’re going to do something. When there is no doubt, there is only room to grow.
What is the one failure you had as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?
Mistakes happen, especially when you’re first starting out. My biggest mistake was that I trusted the wrong people in the beginning. I trusted that they were giving me the right numbers or the right advice.
But looking back, I’m glad for that experience, because now, all the final decisions are made by me. Who I choose to trust, even the way I think about trust, has changed. I never assume someone else is doing my homework for me, which is why I always go back and make sure everything is in order.
It’s not that I am constantly suspicious, because that’s no way to live, but I rely on my own intel before I assume someone else’s is better.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
As I mentioned earlier, solar power inspires me and maybe people don’t know that solar is more than just solar panels. The use of solar power in the U.S. is still lacking. There are a lot of applications that aren’t being implemented.
There’s one thing that Europe, specifically Denmark, is doing that hasn’t caught on in the United States yet, and that’s solar water pumping systems. Though it’s usually utilized on farms and other rural areas to water crops, it’d be a great coup for investors, especially ones in the real estate industry.
I recently read a Forbes article that says hotels use 50% more energy than multifamily buildings even though they have little over 50% occupancy most of the time. Imagine how much energy luxury hotels would be saving if they used solar power…
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently had an amazing glass of champagne at Daniel Boulud’s Daniel’srestaurant which I would personally rate as the best restaurant in New York.
When you pay for a service, regardless of its cost, you’re paying for nostalgia or memory. That champagne tasted amazing because I was in my favorite restaurant relaxing with people I wanted to be with. That’s worth way more than $100 in my book.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
River2River uses an internal database that has trackable properties in the market. It gives comps, props, and breaks down everything in simple numbers. It makes it easier for me to keep track of what’s happening in the markets and industry, and helps me make smarter decisions.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recently read “Made to Stick“ which breaks down why some ideas work and others fail. If I pick up a book, it’s non-fiction, and only because I think it will teach me something. I like the idea of perpetual learning, and I encourage others to think the same way. The minute you think you’ve done all the research or know everything you need to about your business, it’s over.
What is your favorite quote?
“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” — Warren Buffett
If you’ve done your homework, paid your dues, and stuck to your gut, you’re not taking a risk so much as a decision based on experience that you can back up. I can back up my decisions because where I am today is proof I’ve made good choices and taken the right risks.
Highly transparent and under-leveraged, the New York real estate market is one of the most stable in the world. If you are looking to make a savvy investment, now is a great time to beat rising property values — which are expected to increase by as much as 20 percent over the next three years — to secure real estate that will generate returns for years to come.
Traditionally, investors looked for opportunities in the affluent suburbs of Long Island and New Jersey, but growth in those areas has become stagnate. But today, we look to Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Hudson County, which are areas that are growing rapidly thanks to new job opportunities, especially in healthcare.
Healthcare jobs are growing by five percent per year — twice as fast as finance, the region’s primary economic and population driver — and account for 84 percent of New York City’s total population growth between 2015 and 2016. The rapid growth has increased New York’s population to a record high of 8,550,405 and shows no signs of slowing.
Here are the five most promising investment opportunities in the New York real estate sector to keep up with growth and changing demographics.
1. Apartment Buildings
As high home prices continue to rise and the city’s population continues to grow, a majority of New York residents are being driven into apartment building rentals located in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Hudson County. Therefore, apartment buildings purchased at the right price today can be a very lucrative investment.
2. Single-family Homes to be converted into Multiple Units
Because home prices are high compared to rents, pure single-family rentals are not likely to be lucrative investments, unless you’re looking to invest in a special area or are driven by other special circumstances. However, the high home prices that are driving people into renting can be lucrative if you’re able to purchase and refashion a single-family home into one featuring multiple units.
3. Retail Stores
Recent population increases in Brooklyn, and especially in Queens, have not been matched by the availability of new stores. In addition, the Bronx is underserved by new stores. Because healthcare jobs are growing and generating lower-, middle-, and higher-tier income across the city, retail stores are a reasonably safe investment.
4. Office Buildings
The same healthcare sector growth that is creating a need for new apartment buildings and stores, is also generating the need for new office space. Although millions of square feet of new office space are already under construction in Queens and Brooklyn, there is presently no indication that demand in those boroughs will slow even as the new planned office towers take shape. In fact, the office booms in these boroughs signal a healthy long-term future for New York’s overall economy.
Office space in Manhattan may also be a good investment, as Manhattan is still the center of the New York office world. Although 20 million additional square feet of office space are being constructed in Manhattan and are expected to be available by 2021, the number of new offices is insufficient to meet the demand from a booming economy. Nevertheless, reports have not accounted for additional space that is to be provided by new World Trade Center Towers, and the future absorption rate for new office space is unclear.
5. Mortgages and Construction Loans
Rising home prices will keep equity rising, too, making mortgages a sound investment. Although there is always some risk of default, that risk is just about average right now because rising home prices are in balance with incomes.
Alternatively, but in the same vein, construction loans will also go up with only an average risk of default, making them another prudent investment. Ingo Winzer, contributor to Forbes and president of Local Market Monitor — which has followed real estate dynamics since 1989 in over 300 communities — predicts 45,000 new houses and 70,000 apartments will be constructed in Queens over the next three years. Brooklyn will only see 40,000 new homes constructed, but 110,000 new apartments. The Bronx will likely experience modest new home construction but is expected to grow by 60,000 new apartments.
The idea that New York real estate is out-of-reach for those looking for sound investments may be closer to reach than many would think. The worst thing to do when thinking of buying real estate is to wait — especially in the ever-booming New York City.
New York City is famous the world over for its glitz and glamour, featured in all sorts of popular entertainment from movies to television shows. Yet not all that glitters is gold. Life in paradise is much harder than one may think. In fact, many New Yorkers are one paycheck away from homelessness, forced into a monthly catch-22–a cycle causing of perpetual anxiety.
A recently published study from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD) found that more than half of New Yorkers are without savings of any kind. Another study by theCenter for Economic Opportunity (CEO), reveals that nearly 25% of Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics are living below the federal poverty level, homeless, or both. That same CEO report shows that while there has been a steady improvement over the years, these numbers don’t lie. There is a continual indication that many New Yorkers are wading just above the poverty line, and minorities living within the five boroughs are suffering the most. In those communities, there is a distinct lack of emergency savings, employment, and pursuit towards or opportunities for higher education, especially in the neighborhoods of Harlem in Manhattan and Bushwick in Brooklyn, among just two minority-rich communities.
According to the Shelter Census Report from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), the past five years have seen an explosive increase in shelter attendance. In 2011, there were just under 40,000 people. As of October 2016, there were 62,306 people in the shelter system, a marked increase of over 20,000, or just about fifty percent.
At the national level, the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) from 2015, compiled by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, found that California and Florida also have a homeless population greater than six percent of their population. Other states which have significantly high homeless populations per capita include Texas and Massachusetts.
As with many large cities, New York City and its residents are not immune to economic or health factors that can cause homelessness. While numerous reports say that there are many families who bounce back quickly from being homeless, there are just as many who likely do not recover due to exigent circumstances. Some of the major causes of homelessness are a death in the family, (followed by the loss of the sole income in the household), or an unexpected financial debt that becomes too difficult to repay. Other major triggers for homelessness include hazardous housing conditions, job loss, overcrowding, eviction, and domestic violence.
Even in the best of times, life in New York City can be tough. And despite economic growth and an increase in jobs, these are far from the best of times. According to the Coalition for the Homeless,homelessness in New York City has reached levels not seen since the Great Depression. How can New Yorkers solve these problems? That’s up in the air, but a good start is de-stigmatizing homelessness and lobbying for increased affordable housing.
There’s no place on Earth quite like New York City. Its energy and opportunity attract millions of people who want to be part of the Big Apple, and to those millions, the city gives so much. Actors, artists, businessmen, and professionals all benefit from everything New York has to offer.
The same people who thrive from the city’s many gifts are also the people who make New York a place who give back to others. With so many ways to give back, paying it forward is easier than you’d think.
Tutor with Masa
Masa, a Bronx-based organization dedicated to academic achievement, is seeking tutors for the spring 2017 term. Just two hours of tutoring a week can help students build a strong foundation in school by receiving homework help and growth as readers. Volunteer blocks are available between 6 and 8 PM, Monday through Thursday.
Coach Girls in Soccer
South Bronx United is seeking volunteer coaches for its two girls’ SBU competitive travel soccer teams. Coaches serve as more than mere play tacticians. They are mentors and role models who help the girls develop the values of teamwork, discipline, and respect as they form a love for the sport. The winter season kicks off in January and goes to early March. The spring season runs from mid-March to June. Schedules are flexible and will be built around your free time.
Food Bank for New York City
Food Bank for New York City had provided food to nearly one in five New Yorkers for over 30 years. To help its work in all five boroughs, FBNYC requires 800 volunteers a week to help package food, feed breakfast to seniors, or prepare meals for those who need them. FBNYC is open to individual or group volunteering opportunities, making it an excellent place for your business or organization to make an impact.
Help Your Local Park
New York City is full of dozens of green spaces big and small that provide peace and escape from the surrounding hustle and bustle of a major metropolis. There are a number of terrific ways to get involved with the city’s parks from volunteering to plant new plants and paint benches to working to restore natural green lands and tend to local wildlife.
Volunteer at the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is seeking enthusiastic volunteers to help with library card sign-ups during the months of January, February, and March. Volunteers are asked to work 2–3 hour flexible shifts per month that are available in morning, noon, nighttime, and weekend hours. This campaign also provides information on a host of free services that the NYPL provides.
Become a Wish-granting Volunteer for Make-A-Wish
The Make-A-Wish Foundation works with children all over New York. As a Wish-granting Volunteer, you will be part of a team that interviews children with life-threatening diseases to determine their deepest wish. Afterward, you will assist with granting the child’s wish by working with Make-A-Wish staff and your volunteer partner.
In a city with a population of nearly ten million, there are tens of thousands (if not more) ways to give back and make a difference in others’ lives as well as your own. I’ve never done something for someone that didn’t make me feel more grounded or appreciative of all the different people who live here. Though there are times when being cramped in the concrete jungle can feel by rote, when I find new ways to give back, I feel a kinship to New Yorkers. In a sense, that makes me more than just one in eight million people.
The recent global warming and climate change that we are currently experiencing are largely a result of greenhouse gases that humans have emitted, and are continuing to emit at an alarming pace, into the atmosphere. Cities play a huge part in these emissions. With their consistently increasing population, number of cars of the road and buildings going up, cities are a large sources of greenhouse gasses. New York City is the most populous city in the United States and the 21st largest city in the world. The city is constantly growing in terms of population, infrastructure, cars and, as a result, greenhouse emissions. While the Atelier is working towards playing its part in reducing these emissions, other buildings aren’t necessarily doing so. Let’s take a look at how cities, specifically New York City, contributes to global warming and climate change.
Greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming. Humans emit them in a variety of ways. Most of these emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electricity production, which there are many of in New York City. While greenhouse gasses also come from other sources such as agriculture and deforestation, according to reputable sources such as the United Nations, cities contribute seventy percent of the greenhouse gas emitted around the world.
As the population of New York City rises we see an increase in the amount of infrastructure needed to support these new people and the a rise in the amount of transportation that will be required to get them around, whether that be cars or public transportation. We need more buildings to house people, new supermarkets, office buildings, shopping centers, train stations, etc. Just the process of building these new buildings emits a significant amount of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Then there’s the emissions that they will continue to produce while they are being used. Heating and cooling, lighting and appliances are all factors that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, buildings account for forty percent of total energy use, sixty-eight percent of total electricity consumption, and thirty-eight percent of the carbon dioxide emission just in the United States. While we are seeing an increase of buildings being LEED certified and taking the environment in mind, not everyone is being environmentally conscious when building in New York City. If we use energy efficient technologies we have the potential of reducing energy consumption by up to sixty percent. Even implementing a small change in how our cities are being built up and run can make a difference.
Stay tuned! This blog post is part two of three. The first post introduced us to global warming and climate change, looking at the causes of the problem and the effects of it. The next and final post in this series will explore how we can slow down and even stop global warming, using the Atelier in New York City as an example.
Over forty years ago, scientists discovered the harmful effects of our use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) on the earth’s Ozone Layer. The Ozone Layer, which shields the earth from damaging ultraviolet rays, was said to have an expanding, thinning hole just above Antarctica. At that time, in 1974, experts began predicting the depletion of this stratospheric covering would be relatively rapid if ignored, to perpetually damaging results, even deadly. In response, a list of major countries around the world entered an agreement known as the Montreal Protocol to curb as well as eliminate the use of CFCs and substances causing such damage.
Now, nearly two years since the agreement, new research has emerged to show that the hole in the ozone layer is shrinking, or healing, according to some. Though the layer continued to grow thinner in the 1980s and 1990s, since 2000, it has shrunk by an estimated 1.7 million miles as of this year. This occurred despite the presence of a new hole in 2006 and interference attributed to volcanic activity in 2015, which showed the hole expanding.
What Does This Mean?
The Work Is Not In Vain
The good news in this is not merely bragging rights for scientists to say “I told you so,” not that anyone would. To be absolutely clear, science is deserving of accolades and credit for both the prescience to inspire such programs and the patience to see it through. Nevertheless, it is a testament to our ability as inhabitants of this planet to take responsibility for our actions and to rectify the harm we’ve done. Though perceived as frivolous or even expensive, these results show that it is wholly rational to make efforts to protect the planet.
We’re Better Together
Furthermore, with many crediting the Montreal Protocol as the definitive action resulting in modern progress, it shows the need for unity and involvement from all parties. The original agreement happened between 20 countries. By 2015, 197 had showed support for this initiative, becoming the first treaty to receive universal ratifications in the United Nations’ history. It’s hard to imagine that the current healing process would be as successful or as immediate without international efforts to build awareness and reduce CDCs.
We Have More To Do
Even with this current update, there is work to be done toward changing this course. Scientists predict that at the current rate, by 2050 the hole will have reverted to 1980 levels, resulting in less danger for crops, animals and people. Additionally, Global Warming presents a major challenge in terms of climate and subsequent natural disasters. The more recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions targets for participating countries, are actively working toward that, but it has been slow.
Realizing the urgency of these matters, The Atelier has undergone renovations to be more environmentally friendly, as mentioned in a previous blog. New York City is just one of the places dear to us at risk of rising sea levels. Thus, continued action and change is necessary, and as we’ve seen with the Montreal Protocol, the time is now to make it happen.