Ridiculous Raises in Rent

December 2, 2007
By Susannah Cutler, New York, NY

I remember watching a clip of Sam on the news when I was younger. He owned a little store on First Avenue. The store was called, "Sam's Smoke Shop". The female news reporter asked him questions concerning his future such as, "What will you do now? Where will you go?" He answered her questions with a facade of confidence. "I will be moving back to India."

I remember the shop very clearly. It had the cheapest candy, and Sam was the nicest man. He befriended most of the kids and called them all by their first names. When my brother would walk into the shop, Sam would say something like, "Hello David. How are you?" We all missed the shop when it closed. This is because Sam's Smoke Shop had become such a big part of the culture for the children living in the neighborhood. This is because of the friendly workers and the very inexpensive candy.
Stuyvesant Town, the apartment complex I live in, owned the space that Sam had been renting out for his shop. They had raised the rent so high that he could no longer afford to keep it and had no choice but to leave. In fact, Stuyvesant Town had done this to a lot of stores that circled around the complex, ripping out the culture and replacing it with large corporation chain stores such as Starbucks and RadioShack.
According to an article on this, "Store owners say they and their middle-class clientele are being charged extravagant rents." (Erica Kinetz "Neighborhood Report: Stuyvesant Town; First Ave. Merchants Feel They're Being Charged Madison Ave. Rents" www.query.nytimes.com). Because of Stuyvesant Town's "extravagant rents" many storeowners and people living there have had to leave. Since 2002 (when the article was published) many wealthier people have began moving into Stuyvesant Town and that was the ultimate goal for the owners. However, it was not the ultimate goal for the people who have lived and worked in Stuyvesant Town for years prior to the ridiculous raises in rent.
The rent issue in Stuyvesant Town has caused and continues to cause a loss of culture and good people who were unable to afford to stay. This is not only an issue in Stuyvesant Town but also in many other neighborhoods in New York City, and it has been happening for a very long time now. It is an issue of a lack of affordable housing and a surplus of chain stores diminishing the culture. The issue must be stopped before New York City loses all of its culture and everyone that isn't wealthy has no choice but to leave.

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