Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Yo-Yo Economic Recovery/How It Affects Churches

Here in New York where I live, store owners are complaining that people are coming into stores to look and browse but they're not buying too much. Macy's described it as a "reluctance to spend." Walmart is even complaining about customers not spending as much. Could it be the high cost of living and the exorbitant amounts people are paying for rent and to own, not to mention real estate taxes which are very high in the suburbs of NYC? I think so. In New York City with all its trendy neighborhoods, prices for condos, apartments and houses have gone through the roof, they've reached the absurd level in my opinion. New York City is a unique place, with great cultural diversity, excitement and creativity but with rising rents and the high cost to own, it will become a place for the rich and the rich only, if prices keep rising.  The middle class is hurting and stores are starting to see that. It's a real problem.
Middle class families are crucial to the well being and financial stability of Churches in the Northeast. And there are so many beautiful churches here. So that concerns me.   There is a great need for affordable housing in New York City and its suburbs and there is a lot of talk about doing something about it, but I'm not sure how much is actually getting done.
I grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Brooklyn. The neighborhood was filled with people of different backgrounds and religions and they made their living as police officers, firemen, teachers, nurses, government, city, and state workers, as well as construction workers, electricians and transit workers. My father worked for the transit authority. People worked hard, saved their money, bought houses and raised their families. There were good schools and great parishes. Middle class families with  strong ties to their extended families, their faith and community helped make New York City the unique place it is. The story is changing rapidly. Demographic changes will impact our Churches, there is no doubt about that. Churches should be on the forefront of helping to get affordable housing into New York City neighborhoods.