It might not come as a surprise, but it’s deeply troubling nonetheless. Our city’s recent push towards a more comprehensive assessment of the homeless population has provided the latest set of results and they are far from positive. The survey from the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) has the number of homeless New Yorkers at 3,892, an increase of over 1,000 from the same time in 2016.
At a time when there seems to be more money in the city than ever, these statistics are a painful reminder that not all citizens are fortunate enough to meet our basic needs. Living on the streets, for some of us a terrifying idea, is a daily reality for a growing number of people in nearly every corner of New York City.
Though these numbers are concerning, and rightfully so, the fact that we are aware of them at all is a promising sign for the city’s future. The HOPE count is part of the city’s relatively recent HOME-STAT homeless outreach program, the latest program designed to assist and house our city’s dispossessed residents.
Implemented in March 2016, HOME-STAT is the deBlasio administration’s attempt to use analytics combined with a street-level approach to evaluating the city’s homeless problem and finding practical solutions. The idea emulates the NYPD’s CompStat program, credited with helping in the massive, unprecedented reduction in crime the city saw in the 1990s and 2000s.
Informed by data collected by HOME-STAT employees, targeted efforts are made to assist and help shelter people living on the street. These “Swarm Teams” follow recommendations from HOME-STAT software to pinpoint areas with large concentrations of homeless people and engage with them personally, in the hopes that they will accept a transition to shelters with the long-term goal of getting them into housing.
While it’s not the cure that many hope for, HOME-STAT has made some headway in taking on the homelessness problem. They made headlines at the end of last year by announcing their programs had led to the temporary housing of nearly 700 of the city’s homeless. Even though they were not all placed in permanent homes, it can be considered a minor victory that some were convinced to come off of the streets. Eventually, it is hoped, more face-to-face interventions will result in a real reduction in the homeless numbers.
The mayor has urged patience in the matter, even at the announcement of the program in December 2015saying that it may take years before concrete results are visible. The kind of one-on-one work being done is indeed something that will take time. The trade-off of spending more effort on each individual means that fewer people will be directly affected, though this more holistic approach is a step in the right direction away from draconian policies that often left citizens dehumanized and disrespected.
One promising aspect of the new program is the level of transparency. On HOME-STAT’s website, detailed maps of 311 requests for homeless assistanceare available across daily, weekly and yearly timeframes. What this means is that citizens are now able to observe, in nearly real-time, where their fellow New Yorkers are calling the city to provide assistance. All of us will be able to keep tabs on the efforts to fight homelessness on a case-by-case basis.
It’s a little-known fact that the City of New York is legally obliged to provide housing for those without it, but with the explosion in the city’s homeless population, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that.
The number of people staying in shelters in New York City has grown by over 10,000 since Mayor de Blasio took office to more than 60,000, with no relief in sight. There is no official estimate for those who are not in shelters, but needless to say the total number of homeless in the city is a great deal higher. After committing to a record $1.6 billion in spending to fight the problem, the city has seen no reduction in the number of people forced onto our streets. Needless to say, there is no shortage of disturbing facts about this issue, but a look at our city streets is all one needs to realize it’s getting worse. What’s absolutely clear by now is that it’s not simply a matter of money. How could the problem be getting worse when our Mayor has made such a public stance against it?
One reason for the growth in the homeless population is also a fundamental source of consternation for most New Yorkers over the past decade or so. It’s no secret that, nationwide, housing affordability is a major issue, and New York City is home to some of the most egregious examples of this. As neighborhoods transform, housing costs go up and many working-class residents end up being priced out to make room for new arrivals. As you go down the earnings line, those at the bottom too often end up homeless after losing their jobs, sometimes even while they are still working. As much as affordable housing is a political bargaining chip, there is still not nearly enough of it to satisfy the needs of lower-income New Yorkers.
The programs that do exist are often woefully inadequate. The overcrowded shelter system, the main infrastructural source of help for the homeless, has long been an insufficient source of support for people in need, especially families. Many users of the system have described it as a claustrophobic, prison-like environment where violence is an entirely too common sight. New York Daily News research found that in 2015, there were over 1,500 “critical incidents” of violence and ill behavior in city shelters, more than five per day. It’s no wonder that many choose to take their chances on the street rather than be locked in with a potentially dangerous population. Staying on the street is often a rational choice to be made over taking on the deteriorating conditions in the shelters.
Another inadequate option is what’s called “cluster housing,” where the city rents apartments in low-income neighborhoods for homeless families. Instead of having access to a support system, these families are instead placed at the mercy of landlords who are, in general, not attuned to the needs of their new tenants and are simply collecting checks from the city. The danger of these sites was thrown into the spotlight last December with the tragic story of two sisters under the age of 3 killed by a faulty radiator in a cluster apartment in the Bronx. Hotel placement has been similarly dispiriting, with conditions that are not much better. To his credit, Mayor de Blasio has vowed to shut down these cluster sites, but progress is slow.
A particularly unfortunate aspect of this crisis has been the lack of empathy not just from political leaders, but the population at large. Anger over housing for the homeless has erupted in several neighborhood protests of proposed housing for the homeless, with demonstrations in Maspeth, Queens shutting down a shelter that would have housed up to 220 people. These demonstrators frequently argue that new shelters are merely a bandaid for the problem, but a main opposition seems to be a simple desire for their neighborhood to stay the way it is.
All of us share in the responsibility to help those who need it. It’s clear that a serious problem exists, with no clear solution. What we can all do is maintain awareness and make a commitment to advocate and provide assistance for the unfortunate who live in our city’s streets. Not everyone needs to spend a few cold nights on the street in order for the city to possess some empathy for the less fortunate. We’re all New Yorkers, and we all deserve the dignity and compassion that’s been lacking for so many.
Solar power offers reduced operating costs and a higher return on investment than many other energy sources. Plus, it’s largely maintenance-free, super-reliable and good for the environment. What’s not to love? If you’re planning to integrate solar energy in your business this year, make sure you’re prepared to make the switch.
Putting up a solar project is a long-term investment — a truth I learned during my Atelier experience. I also honestly can say it’s been 100 percent worth it. The initial expense can be relatively high, which is why leasing would have been more favorable in the past. Setup costs have gone down significantly in the past few years, however, making solar far more affordable to the average homeowner or small-business owner.
Single-family homes account for most of New York City’s solar projects. It costs $20,000 to $50,000 to install a residential system, but a combination of city and state public programs can pick up as much as half the bill. Then there’s this: Solar-powered homes reportedly have cut monthly bills by up to 85 percent, compared to previous monthly bills. If that’s not reason enough to front the startup costs, estimates reveal solar energy’s ROI beats the stock market in more 25 states, including New York.
Ideally, the entire process shouldn’t take more than eight weeks from start to finish. However, many factors at play could delay the timeline.
A few years ago, the permit-approval process alone could take up to two years. Today, there’s better coordination among government, installers, owners and utilities. New York City’s Department of Buildings now can issue permits in a matter of a few days. It’s a welcome change from the weeks (at best) that earlier applicants waited for a decision.
Signing the paperwork officially gives your installation team the go-ahead. It’s an easy step that should take 24 hours at most — if you have the capital in hand. If you need to secure an improvement loan from a bank or other lender, you’ll wait longer.
Next, your team’s engineers gather site-specific data and create a design for your system upgrade. By now, you’re firmly into week three. Simple designs might take just a week, but owners would be wise to budget roughly three weeks for complex or large solar arrays.
Once you approve the design, you’ll need to submit a permit and wait for the Department of Buildings to greenlight your application. Things move quickly after you get the thumbs-up: You’re now clear to schedule the installation and then await inspection from the utilities department — typically a week or two after installation. The utility company changes the meter, and you’re good to go.
NYC’s permitting process.
Before you install solar panels, you’ll have to go through the City of New York’s permitting process, which begins when you file a permit. You can file this request under a New Building or Alteration permit. You also have the option to file separately as an Alteration Type-2 at borough offices or The HUB itself. The Department of Buildings will inspect the premises and use that information to help make a determination about your application’s future.
Local and state incentives.
Through NY-Sun, the State of New York offers a range of incentives to build a more affordable and sustainable solar industry in New York City. The program offers loan financing for residential, small-commercial and commercial projects. The terms vary depending on the type of borrower. Residential and small-commercial customers can finance up to $25,000 with a repayment period as long as 15 years. Commercial borrowers may finance up to 100 percent of any-sized solar projects and secure an interest rate in the range of 4 percent to 6.5 percent. As an added motivation to participate, NY-Sun also extends reduced installation costs to borrowers across all three categories.
Net energy is the difference between the energy produced and the energy consumed. Many households use less than solar panels produce. Excess energy is pushed back into the grid. The net-metering structure credits the owner for this power returned to the overall system. As an owner, you can use the offset to cover future bills, though you’ll still need to pay the monthly connection charge for the service of using the utility’s grid.
There’s no denying the decision to switch to a solar system can be tough. Even with government support, the one-time setup fee might be too steep for some. But solar undoubtedly is taking over. New York City experienced a surge in installations during 2016. That’s on top of the substantial increase over the preceding years, when residential and commercial installationsdoubled between 2014 and 2016.
The earlier you get on board with solar, the greater benefits you’ll enjoy over the long term.
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.
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.