Tony the Tour Guy's Blog

A not very regular series of posts on New York City history, historic preservation, genealogy and related themes.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tweeding Revisited

Some opponents of big developments in this town seem to be singling out poor immigrants as the problem, instead of big developers.  They see the problem as "Tweeding," a reference to the infamous political boss of the 19th Century, "Boss" William Tweed.  Tweeding politicians, they argue, are anxious to pack their districts with loads of immigrants whom they can lavish with services, such as low-income housing, in return for votes. One guy I know keeps referring to "immigrant barracks" popping up. If there are any big low-income housing developments going up around town, I would like to see them. But, that notwithstanding, here are a few points to consider:

  • Most poor immigrants are not citizens. Therefore they cannot vote.
  • There is just about no money out there for low income housing. The NYC Housing Authority is running in the red big time. 
  • Constituents for the most part don't want low income housing in their communities. Putting in such housing would not make a politico very popular. 
  • Developers are almost universally building "luxury" buildings. 
  • The "affordable" housing that is often talked about is actually for people in the middle income bracket. It most certainly is not "affordable" for a dishwasher making minimum wage. 
  • New York City is pretty solidly democratic to begin with, and the state is most definitely "Blue."   Politicians don't need any more voters.
Let's quit bashing poor immigrants. 


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