WVU sociologist studies affordable housing, community and the lives of NYC's middle class in new book
Between 14th and 23rd Streets in New York City lies an 80-acre community called Stuyvesant Town. What started as a home with a noble purpose – accommodating veterans and their families after World War II – has since become entrenched in controversy and strife.
Rachael A. Woldoff, associate professor of sociology at West Virginia University, has examined that controversy in her new book, Priced Out: Stuyvesant Town and the Loss of Middle-class Neighborhoods. Along with co-authors Lisa M. Morrison and Michael R. Glass, Woldoff examines changes in the demographics and culture of this community as landlords attempt to replace longtime, rent-controlled residents with younger, more affluent tenants.
“We talk about the current moment in time that is about deregulation. There was a time when we believed in controlling the rent for people coming home from war to make housing affordable in New York City,” said Woldoff. “Now landlords have the mindset that if you can get more money for that apartment, long-term, rent-controlled tenants have no right to be there.”
From the perspective of the native residents, a sense of place and community is disrupted, and perceived quality of life has plummeted.
Many of these residents speak their piece in the book, with interviews that allow an intimate view of those struggling for prime real estate in New York. It discusses issues that have become the reality of everyday life for those in the city: housing insecurity, landlord interactions, neighbor relationships, and the tenants’ efforts to organize and advocate for themselves as the middle class is increasingly priced out.
Priced Out is available March 15 from NYU Press. Other publications from Woldoff include “White Flight/Black Flight: The Dynamics of Racial Change in an American Neighborhood,” winner of the 2012 Best Book in Urban Affairs Award given by the Urban Affairs Association and “High Stakes.”
CONTACT: Devon Copeland, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
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