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Some of the NYC Mayoral Candidates Have an Absurd Idea of How Much It Costs To Buy a Home

A meme of Lucille Bluth looking disdainful with the text "It's one home in Brooklyn, Michael. How much could it cost, $100k?"

New York City’s mayoral primary election is next month and so far, much of the national media coverage has been on how out-of-touch some of these candidates are. Andrew Yang entered the race late and has been dominating in the polls thanks to name recognition—but he also lost the endorsement of a prominent LGBTQIA group after making some seriously “tokenizing” remarks. (He also doesn’t appear to know what a bodega is.) Scott Stringer has been accused of harassing and assaulting a former employee twenty years ago, making a pretty great case for just not voting for men in general for a while.

Now two more candidates have added their names to the “what were they thinking?” list. The New York Times’ editorial board has conducted a series of interviews with all the candidates. One of the questions asked in the interviews was if the candidates know the median sales price for a home in Brooklyn right now.

The answer is close to a million dollars ($900,000), which honestly sounds low for New York City. Multiple candidates’ guesses were off by, well, pretty much the entirety of that number. Longtime investment banker and financial executive Ray McGuire guessed it was “somewhere in the $80,000 to $90,000 range.”

Shaun Donovan is a housing expert, having served as the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama and as the housing commissioner under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Donovan guessed you can buy a house for $100,000.

Donovan emailed the Times to clarify that his answer “referred to the assessed value of homes in Brooklyn,” writing, “I really don’t think you can buy a house in Brooklyn today for that little.”

He also tried to joke off the embarrassment on Twitter.

Except he didn’t have any follow-up for his mistake other than to say he “Got the numbers mixed up.” Which is not great, given that this is his exact area of expertise.

This has huge Lucille Bluth energy (“It’s one Brooklyn apartment, Michael. What could it cost, $100k?”) but it’s an incredibly serious issue. New York is the most expensive city in the country but no one should be running for mayor of any city anywhere if they’re this out of touch with the daily lives of the people who live there.

Here’s what the other candidates in the Democratic primary said, just to paint a full picture:

  • Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive who worked in affordable housing: “I don’t know, half a million.”
  • Eric Adams, former police captain and the Brooklyn borough president: I believe it’s about $550,000.
  • Andrew Yang, the self-described “math guy” got it exactly right: “I would just say that the median — it’s going to be something, like, much higher than it should be. So the number that popped into my mind is $900,000.”
  • Maya Wiley, a civil rights lawyer, went over by double: “Oh gosh, I actually know rentals better than home sales. But I’m going to say it’s about $1.8 million.”
  • Scott Stringer was close: “A million?”
  • Kathryn Garcia, a longtime civil servant and the candidate who ultimately nabbed the New York Times‘ endorsement also came very close: “Oh, I don’t know this. I haven’t purchased in a long time. I’m going to guess $800,000.”

(image: 20th Century Fox)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.