Written by Sarah Hartman
As a Fordham University undergraduate, I found it an enriching and necessary experience to take the Master Class on New York City and Dynamic Change with Dr. Sheinkopf. Because New York is Fordham’s campus, it is important for me as a student to get to know the city and its current events. New York is ever changing and Dr. Sheinkopf emphasized this in his class. Dr. Sheinkopf was a perfect guide as he is a New York native and knows the ins and outs of New York City politics. With Dr. Sheinkopf we explored the five boroughs and their evolution. A thought-provoking topic of discussion was demographic inversion, a phenomenon affecting many US cities, including New York. Demographic inversion is the process of upper class individuals and families moving into the city while those who are less affluent replace them in the suburbs. This phenomenon is directly related to gentrification, the displacement of low income and minority communities, a process that we as a Fordham community should be cognizant of. The demand for inner city living is growing in popularity but with this growth, one must look at the counter effect. As rent increases, as well as gas prices, the demand for low-income housing increases.
I was particularly interested in our discussion of low-income housing and the issues pertaining to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). NYCHA apartments are in high demand but are in terrible shape. People live in squalor and endure high crime rates to be able to live in the city. Some of the apartments are infested with mold and have lead paint issues that have resulted in lead poisonings. To talk more about this issue, Dr. Sheinkopf brought in Gregory Floyd, the president of the Local 237 Teamsters. One of the issues that Mr. Floyd discussed was the security of NYCHA buildings. Police units assigned to the apartments have been limited and while crime is down in New York City, crime remains steady in NYCHA apartments. This was expressed with frustration as efforts to improve public housing has left the union out of the loop. Mr. Floyd told the class of how the Union has ideas and wants to help the housing authority, but they go ignored. It was a great opportunity to get to hear from someone who knows exactly what is going on and what could happen in the future. This class was an eye-opening experience, one that I could only have gotten from Dr. Sheinkopf.