21 Feb 2008 8:00 am   //   Filed under: Brooklyn, New York is different

Please don’t talk to me about real estate

I moved to Brooklyn in 2002 with a vague idea that rent would be expensive. Understatement. I’ve made it work. But given how quickly prices have climbed, I doubt I’d be able to make a go of it today. In fact, I can’t even move to a comparable apartment in my neighborhood right now without realistically expecting my rent to double. Any young, aspiring creative person who does a little research first will be discouraged from moving to New York. It shouldn’t be so.

That’s why a certain group of us cheer every time the stock market drops. Let Wall Street hurt for a few years (they’ll get through it somehow) and let rents take a dive with it. With less money to invest, one hopes, fewer people will be buying apartments as investments — the ones that sit empty except for occasional weekend use. That will mean a greater supply for people who actually need housing for its own sake.

A friend and I recently pondered a more aggressive, direct-action strategy. Historically, rents fall in New York as crime increases, for obvious reasons. Thing is, we’re not ones to root for more crime. That got us thinking: Crime doesn’t actually have to rise. People just need to be convinced that crime is rising. Our strategy is to call in a bunch of fake crime reports to precints in select neighborhoods, just to throw off the stats and create the impression that New York is dangerous again. To make this plan work would require a well-organized team of very convincing liars, but the payoff would be so worth it.