Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rips Andrew Yang for his ‘chest-thumping’ Israel statement and mocks his rejection from a Ramadan event

Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez Capitol Hill April 2021
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Capitol Hill.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized Andrew Yang for his pro-Israel statement amid the deadly Israel-Palestine conflict.
  • Ocasio-Cortez stood with Queens organizers who disinvited Yang from a Ramadan-related event Tuesday.
  • The congresswoman’s criticism could adversely impact progressive support for Yang’s NYC mayoral bid.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized fellow Democrat Andrew Yang, a New York City mayoral candidate, for his statement in support of Israel amid the most deadly conflict between Israel and Palestine in years.

Ocasio-Cortez expressed solidarity with Queens organizers who disinvited Yang from a Ramadan-related event on Tuesday following his pro-Israel statement.

“Utterly shameful for Yang to try to show up to an Eid event after sending out a chest-thumping statement of support for a strike killing 9 children, especially after his silence as Al-Aqsa was attacked,” she tweeted. “But then to try that in Astoria? During Ramadan?! They will let you know.”

Israeli airstrikes have killed 30 Palestinians, including 10 children, and injured 203 others, Gaza health officials reported on Tuesday night. At least three Israelis have been killed and 100 have been wounded by Hamas’ rocket attacks.

Yang said he believed he was asked not to attend the event, which involved distributing groceries ahead of Eid, because of his position on Israel.

“The organizers of the event decided it would be better if we did not attend and we were happy to abide by their wishes,” he told reporters Tuesday.

On Monday night, Yang tweeted out his staunchly pro-Israel statement.

“I’m standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks, and condemn the Hamas terrorists,” Yang wrote. “The people of NYC will always stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel who face down terrorism and persevere.”

When Yang was confronted by a few New Yorkers in Astoria, Queens on Tuesday, he called the conflict “heartbreaking,” but wouldn’t condemn Israel’s airstrikes. This is the second time Ocasio-Cortez has publicly criticized Yang’s policy positions during his mayoral campaign, but the congresswoman has otherwise stayed out of the race.

A slew of conservatives, including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, and TV host Meghan McCain, praised Yang’s comments. The hashtag #YangSupportsGenocide trended on Twitter.

Progressives have also criticized President Joe Biden and his administration for not speaking more strongly in defense of Palestinian civilians. A US State Department spokesperson called for “calm” and urged both sides to “de-escalate,” refusing to comment on the civilian deaths.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont progressive, called on the US to “speak out strongly against the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and make clear that the evictions of Palestinian families must not go forward.”

“We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Saturday. “Israeli forces are forcing families from their homes during Ramadan and inflicting violence. It is inhumane and the US must show leadership in safeguarding the human rights of Palestinians.”

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Hate crimes in New York City spiked in the first few months of 2021, NYPD data shows

asian hate crime protest
More than 200 people gathered on Washington Square Park to rally in support Asian community, against hate crime and white nationalism.

  • Hate crimes rose dramatically in New York City during the first quarter of 2021, police data shows.
  • Anti-Asian incidents represented the highest number of hate crimes.
  • There were 80 anti-Asian hate crimes between January 1 and April 4, 2021.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hate crimes in New York City skyrocketed during the first few months of 2021, a report from the New York Police Department showed.

Data showed that hate crimes were on a steady rise from January to February but quickly shot up to more than 50 incidents in March.

The bulk appears to be anti-Asian hate crimes, which also significantly rose in March with over 30 incidents reported in that month alone.

The Wall Street Journal reported that 180 hate crimes were recorded in the city from January 1 through May 2, an increase of 73% from the same period last year, according to the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force.

Between January 1 and April 4, there were 80 hate crimes in the city that targeted Asian-Americans, the Journal reported.

Hate crimes against Asian-Americans have been on the rise across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic and New York City has had several high-profile incidents.

A Brooklyn man was arrested and faces 23 charges stemming from three anti-Asian incidents that occurred between March and April 2020. A 65-year-old Asian woman was yelled at and assaulted while on her way to church in March.

Hate crimes targeting Jewish people were the second-highest behind anti-Asian incidents, with 54 reported between January 1 and May 2.

The NYPD has been ramping up efforts to combat anti-Asian hate crimes and set up the NYPD’s Asian Hate Crimes Task Force in the fall.

Last month, the department also announced a New Hate Crime Review Panel where civilian leaders would look at what challenges there are in determining whether a crime is in fact a hate crime.

“Our continuing partnerships with the community remain the cornerstone of our policing philosophy,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “Whether teaming our cops up with the community to clean graffiti, partnering with esteemed advisors to reimagine policing for the 21st century, or ensuring an independent assessment of all potential hate crimes, we are always striving to make the department fairer, stronger, and more effective.”

The NYPD did not respond to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.

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New York will end its curfew for bars and restaurants in May

New York outdoor dining
People dine at an outdoor Soho restaurant on March 21, 2021 in New York City.

  • New York will lift its midnight curfew on bars and restaurants next month.
  • The curfew will first be lifted on May 17 for outdoor eating and drinking.
  • It will be lifted for indoor restaurants and bars on May 31, Cuomo said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the mandatory midnight closing time for bars and restaurants in the state will be lifted next month.

Cuomo, who ordered the curfews last year to curb the spread of COVID-19, said Wednesday the curfew for outdoor restaurants and bars will end on May 17. The curfew will end for indoor bars and restaurants on May 31. The curfew on catered events will also be lifted at the end of May.

Seating in bars in New York City will resume on May 3, the governor’s office announced.

Cuomo’s announcement came as the New York State legislature is slated to roll back Cuomo’s requirement that patrons of bars and restaurants order a food item if they are ordering an alcoholic beverage. That rule has been in place since July last year, The New York Times noted.

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12 of the best affordable hotels in New York City, according to our first-hand stays

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

best cheap nyc hotels

  • Price is usually a factor for booking hotels, especially in more expensive cities like New York.
  • However, traveling on a budget doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality.
  • We found the best cheap hotels in New York City, all personally vetted and starting under $200.

Though New York is known for being pricey, especially when it comes to hotels, there are plenty of affordable spots to be found with a little digging. While I firmly believe that you get what you pay for in life, some hotels really are nicely-appointed, well-priced, and accessible to the modern traveler – so long as you’re savvy in your search.

Luckily, we’ve done the tough work of scouring the seemingly endless options for you and have found the best cheap New York City hotels, all slept at and personally vetted by our team.

You won’t find any run-of-the-mill, standard chain offerings on our list. Our best affordable hotels are carefully selected gems that serve as far more than just a place to rest your head at the end of the night.

Browse all of the best cheap hotels in New York City below, or jump to a specific area:

Here are the best cheap New York City hotels, sorted by price from low to high.

Arlo SoHo

1. Arlo SoHo shades open

Book Arlo SoHo

Arlo SoHo has made it cool to book tiny hotel rooms, popularizing the trend of micro hotels where quarters barely measure 150 square feet. Sure, the bathroom is nearly reachable from your pillow, but the cozy nook beds are actually places where you’ll want to curl up and hit snooze. Cheapest options include bunk bed, queen, or king options, that range in price depending on the view, and the time of year.

Plus, what it lacks in size, Arlo makes up for with fun common spaces including four bars, an on-site restaurant, co-working space, rooftop lounge, and a seasonal courtyard.

COVID-19 policies can be found here

Read our full hotel review of Arlo SoHo

Freehand New York

freehand hotel review 2

Book Freehand New York

The Freehand New York is a good pick for budget-conscious travelers who still want serious style, as well as convenience and personality. It also feels more in the know than the similar concept presented at Ace Hotels.

Art-filled accommodations are steeped in character and prices are especially reasonable if you select a bunk bed room or standard offering. Rooms still feel fairly new, too.

COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Read our full hotel review of Freehand New York

Moxy East Village

Moxy East Village bed

Book Moxy NYC East Village

Marriott’s outpost in the East Village from their affordable boutique Moxy brand is a four-star hotel themed after the neighborhood’s vibrant local art and culture. There are clear nods to rock and roll, street art, and other East Village countercultures.

Rooms are small but make thoughtful use of storage and design, and the starting price of $185 midweek makes it one of the better-appointed and more affordable options in the hip, popular neighborhood.

COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Read our full review of Moxy East Village

Made Hotel

Made hotel

Book Made Hotel

Made Hotel is a boutique property with budget prices in slower seasons. It’s a great find for travelers who appreciate boho-chic design, cool hotel hangout spots, and curated lush green plants. The intricate design has solidified this hotel as an experiential, one-of-a-kind property, unlike any chain offering nearby.

Rooms are minimal with standard rooms featuring beds perched atop platforms and tribal fabrics.

COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Read our full hotel review for Made Hotel

Hotel 50 Bowery

Bowery hotel room 2

Book Hotel 50 Bowery

I’ve seen Hotel 50 Bowery, a World of Hyatt Joie de Vivre boutique property, priced as low as $115 per night in winter, though $150 is probably a safer average. 

Hotel 50 Bowery brings design-forward decor to the edgy Lower East Side taking inspiration from rich cultural surroundings. If you snag one of those cheaper rates, use the extra cash to upgrade to a balcony room for beautiful views of New York City and order a round of drinks at the rooftop bar.

COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Read our full hotel review of Hotel 50 Bowery

Gild Hall, a Thompson Hotel

Gild Hall   Lobby   Landscape.JPG
Gild Hall’s rustic lobby area.

Book Gild Hall

Gild Hall, a Thompson Hotel from World of Hyatt, offers boutique personality under $200 pretty regularly. Warm and welcoming, the cozy decor is inspired by Aspen country houses for an overall vibe that feels rustic, and far from its corporate Financial District surroundings. 

Standard rooms hover between $170 and $200, making it an interesting, out-of-the-box option for an otherwise generic hotel-filled neighborhood.

COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Read our full hotel review for Gild Hall

The Evelyn

Evelyn New York

Book The Evelyn New York

The Evelyn is a historic NoMad hotel that underwent a multi-million dollar renovation for an Art Deco-inspired look that’s very charming. While many rooms and public spaces were updated, the hotel still preserved the building’s iconic roots in music and history by maintaining original design details, which you’ll find in restaurants and in guest rooms.

COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Read our full review of The Evelyn New York

Sister City New York

Sister City: An affordable boutique hotel in New York

Book Sister City New York

If you love Ace hotels but prefer a more understated approach, Sister City is a good fit. It’s a spin-off property from the creative studio behind Ace Hotel and caters to the experienced, busy traveler who appreciates modern amenities and independence. Self-service tablets guide guests through check-in, while amenities and housekeeping are available on demand.

It’s a smart approach for savvy guests looking to avoid the pain points of crowded hotels and prefer a low-key approach, but with just as much style as a hip boutique spot.

COVID-19 policies can be found here.  

Read our full hotel review of Sister City New York

Ace Hotel New York

Ace Hotel New York  Hotel review

Book Ace Hotel New York

Ace Hotels have long established themselves as a cool and also affordable boutique offering, with outposts in cities like Portland, Palm Springs, Seattle and more. Rooms are minimal and small (which keeps prices low) with the focus on common spaces that invite guests to linger and mingle.

The New York location is equally hip with industrial-meets-masculine decor. The lobby is bustling with creative types who camp out with laptops, and on-site food, drink, and shopping are all top-notch. Single, small, or bunk-bed rooms offer the cheapest rates. Never mind the smaller quarters, the real scene is happening outside the room anyway. 

COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Read our full hotel review of Ace New York

Park South Hotel

King Bedroom Park South

Book Park South Hotel

Rooms at the four-star Park South Hotel are straightforward but well-appointed in Manhattan’s super central NoMad neighborhood. The hotel is a member of World of Hyatt’s Joie de Vivre upscale portfolio ensuring your stay will be comfortable and chic, in line with the boutique line’s standards. Prices in low season start around $150, making it one of the most reasonably-priced higher-end, four-star properties on our list.

This hotel is currently closed until May 21, 2021. You can find COVID-19 updates here.

Read our full hotel review for Park South Hotel

Kixby

Kixby hotel review

Book Kixby

Kixby in Herald Square in Midtown Manhattan recently went through an impressive redesign and both guest rooms and public spaces benefitted from the updated treatment. The space has an intimate members-only club feel, and rooms are quiet.

Newer renovated Lux rooms start at $295 per night, but it’s actually the older but still worthy Classic rooms that deserve your attention here as they are actually larger than the new upgraded offering, and start as low as $152. 

This hotel is currently closed until June 1, 2021. You can find update COVID-19 info here.

Read our full hotel review for Kixby Hotel

Henry Norman Hotel

Henry Norman Standard Room

Book the Henry Norman Hotel

Forget Manhattan, Greenpoint is one of this New Yorker’s favorite neighborhoods in the city, and the Henry Norman Hotel is a hidden gem that’s well-suited to explore it. This wonderful corner of New York filled with incredible restaurants (don’t miss the authentic Polish food), a fun bar scene, and boutique shopping.

Housed in a converted 19th-century warehouse, the hotel’s standard studio loft rooms are large and often start at $169 a night, with a bright, modern eclectic vibe with far more space than you’re likely to find in Manhattan for the same price (a general trend on this side of the river).

There’s no on-site dining, but a complimentary shuttle transports guests anywhere within a mile of the hotel, and there are two 24-hour common terraces with great skyline views. There’s also a laundry room that’s free to use, which is a nice value, considering it’s a common hotel upcharge.

COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Read our full review of the Henry Norman Hotel

Our methodology for choosing the best hotels

In addition to the criteria previously listed above, we considered these additional factors:

Price: We looked for typical starting room rates under $230 per night, with most hotels coming in under $200 per night in low season.

First-hand experience: Every hotel on this list was stayed at and vetted by our team. We considered the value rooms offered, location, decor and design, and more.

Reviews: In addition to our own first-hand stays, we thoroughly researched reviews and ratings on trusted traveler sites such as Trip Advisor, Hotels.com, and Booking.com, and took into account the experience and reviews of other recent guests.

Guests: We chose the best cheap hotels in New York City for a wide audience, including families, couples, solo travelers, and business travelers.

Amenities: We looked for hotels with great amenities that go beyond the usual chain offerings, from excellent dining options and rooftop bars to free bike rentals.

COVID-19 safety: In light of the pandemic, we selected hotels that prioritize the health and safety of guests with strict new cleaning policies.

FAQs

Is it safe to stay in a hotel?

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can now safely travel domestically.

Most hotels New York City hotels have reopened with strict new COVID-19 cleaning procedures in place. Though you’ll encounter fewer people if you opt for a private home rental, experts say that with added precaution, hotels are safe

We also recommend following CDC guidelines and wearing a mask in public, washing hands frequently, and following social distancing.

Where should I stay in New York City?

That depends entirely on what you want to do. There’s something great about every neighborhood in New York, so it’s tough to go wrong. If it’s your first trip to New York and you want to be close to the tourist action, you may be interested in a stay closer to Times Square, Central Park, NoMad, or Flatiron.

Of course, these areas tend to be some of the most crowded, so if you prefer a slightly quieter stay, or if you’re a business traveler heading to Wall Street, consider downtown areas like the Financial District, Seaport, and Battery Park. 

If high-end shopping and hitting boutiques is a top priority, trendy SoHo might be right up your alley. Young travelers and those looking to enjoy more nightlife will likely want to be in the Lower East Side and East Village, or in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District (though there’s culture to be found over there too by way of the High Line, Whitney Museum, and more).

Of course, there are other boroughs outside of Manhattan to consider too. For incredible skyline views from your room, look to Brooklyn and areas like Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

What are the best activities in New York City?

You could spend decades in New York and never run out of activities. Some of the most popular and iconic activities include visiting Times Square, seeing a Broadway show, strolling through Central Park, taking in amazing views from the Empire State Building, One World, or the recently opened Edge, and visiting world-class museums from The Met to MoMA.

When the weather is nice, the High Line and the Brooklyn Bridge also make for nice walks with city views. Taking a ferry out to the Statue of Liberty is another must-do activity, and if you book well in advance, you can even get tickets to go up into the crown.  

Foodies have no shortage of incredible restaurant options, from Michelin-starred fine dining establishments to next-level hidden taco bars. And, there’s no shortage of nightlife, whether you’re seeking classic clubs where you might spot a celebrity or hidden speakeasies. 

Fifth Avenue and SoHo offer legendary shopping and there’s plenty of vintage shops and boutiques to explore too.

What is the best time to visit New York City?

Popular in every season, fall tends to be one of the priciest seasons since the weather is particularly lovey. April to June also offers mild temperatures and lovely spring blooms. If you visit in the summer expect hot and humid temperatures and an influx of tourists and an outflow of locals.

You can often find good deals in the winter, but expect prices to rise around the holiday season when people love to come see the holiday decorations, window displays, Rockettes, and more.

More of the best New York City hotels

the high line hotel new york
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‘You had a good time there but come on back’: Andrew Yang wants New Yorkers who fled to ‘boring’ Florida to return

Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang, who is currently leading the contenders in his Democratic primary run for mayor of New York City, rides the Staten Island Ferry during a campaign stop to the borough on February 26, 2021 in New York City.

  • Yang said that he’ll work to convince New Yorkers to return to the city from places like Florida.
  • He said that people will pay a premium “as long as we can make the case that New York City is back.”
  • Yang stressed that the private sector would play a critical role in the city’s economic recovery.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang says that if he’s elected to office this year, he’ll work to convince New Yorkers who fled to Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic to return, calling the Sunshine State “boring.”

During an episode of “The New Abnormal” featuring editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast, Yang described the importance of the business sector in helping revive New York’s economic fortunes to ensure that people will want to come back to the city.

“The goal has to be to try to justify the premium that organizations and individuals have paid to be in New York City because the opportunities here are better, the culture is better, the quality of life is better,” he said. “It’s a very tough sell when your costs are much higher and you can’t really make those arguments as compellingly.

He added: “My perspective running New York City is that we’re going to need the private sector to be a huge part of the recovery. We have lost approximately 300,000 New Yorkers, some of whom were very high earners and high taxpayers, where they decided to go someplace like Florida because they thought they could save a lot of money on taxes. That’s something we should be aware of try to to counteract.”

Yang said that he would stress school reopenings and the city’s enduring cultural appeal in convincing former residents to return to the city.

“I’m going to be calling people, saying, ‘Look, Florida’s boring.’ You had a good time there but come on back,” he said during the interview. “And by the way, the schools are open. The shows are open. Your friends are here and you know, you can pay a premium as long as we can make the case that New York City is back.”

Read more: Prosecuting Trump does not look like a DOJ priority under Biden’s attorney general. But watch Georgia and New York.

When Jong-Fast posed the question of how to placate wealthy New Yorkers who are fed up with the increased tax burden, Yang said that he’d like to tackle property tax reform in his potential administration.

“I have some of the same conversations, and the city itself does not control most of the taxes that the people you’re describing talk about,” he said. “The municipal government controls property taxes. There are issues with the property taxes that I would like to change and reform. But most of what you’re describing is happening in Albany, where they’re talking about higher state income taxes.”

Yang is currently competing in a competitive Democratic primary that includes Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, former Civilian Complaint Review Board chair Maya Wiley, former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and longtime Wall Street executive Ray McGuire, among others.

The Democratic and Republican primaries will both be held in June, with the respective winners advancing to the November general election.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Andrew Yang offended an LGBTQ political group with ‘Michael Scott levels of cringe and insensitivity,’ report says

Andrew Yang
In this March 11, 2021 file photo, Democratic mayoral candidate Andrew Yang holds a news conference in the Dumbo neighborhood of New York.

  • NYC mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang’s pitch to an LGBTQ political club went disastrously wrong, per a New York Times report.
  • Yang grated the members with glib references to gay bars and gay people being “a secret weapon.”
  • One member of the club described his pitch as having “Michael Scott levels of cringe.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City mayoral frontrunner Andrew Yang bewildered members of a prominent LGBTQ+ political club in the city with “Michael Scott levels of cringe” while trying to win their endorsement, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Several members of the Stonewall Democrats of New York City relayed to The Times and posted on Twitter that Yang offended the group by referring to the gay community as “so beautiful and human” and “a secret weapon,” and his constant references to gay bars and clubs.

Read more: 15 Gen Zers in the Biden administration share what inspires them and how to get a leg up in Washington

“I genuinely do love you and your community,” Yang said, according to a recording of a part of the event obtained by The Times. “You’re so human and beautiful. You make New York City special. I have no idea how we ever lose to the Republicans given that you all are frankly in, like, leadership roles all over the Democratic Party.”

“He kept calling us ‘Your community’, like we were aliens,” one member, filmmaker Harris Doran, told The Times.

“Oh man Andrew Yang at the Stonewall endorsement meeting was an inexperienced, ill informed joke who keep telling us his campaign manager was gay over and over and naming one gay bar over and over,” Doran also posted on Twitter on Wednesday night. “If you are thinking of voting for him, I beg of you, god help us, don’t.”

“When I see a candidate come in just with Michael Scott levels of cringe and insensitivity, it either tells me Andrew Yang is in over his head or is not listening to his staff,” Stonewall Club member Alejandra Caraballo told The Times. “Those are both radioactive flashing signs that say he is not prepared to be mayor of New York.”

The Democratic primary for mayor, which will be the first ranked-choice mayoral election in New York City’s history, is set to take place on June 22.

Yang was the first choice for 22% of likely Democratic primary voters in a recent Spectrum NY1/Ipsos poll, followed by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams at 13%, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer at 11%, and former CitiGroup execute Ray McGuire at 6%.

The Stonewall Club chose to endorse Stringer for its first choice, nonprofit executive Dianne Morales for its second, and McGuire for its third.

Rose Christ, the club’s president, told The Times that Yang’s tone was “outdated,” and that his focus on gay bars and parades “are not the substantive issues that our membership cares about and it came off poorly.”

Sasha Neha Ahuja, one of Yang’s campaign managers who herself identifies at LGBTQ, told The Times: “I hope Andrew continues to have space for folks to listen with an open heart about the experiences of all communities that have been deeply impacted by years of oppression. I apologize if folks felt some type of way about it.”

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I’m a millennial who bought a Brooklyn apartment this year, and I was only able to because of the pandemic

Moving, milennial home ownership
Moving: It’s no fun at all.

  • Late last year, in the middle of the pandemic lockdown, my wife and I bought a Brooklyn apartment.
  • After graduating college into the financial crisis, the odds of homeownership were not in our favor.
  • The pandemic forced banks to offer historically low mortgage interest rates and allowed us to buy an apartment.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

For the last decade, as friends and relatives bought homes, my wife and I paid rent.

More specifically, we paid rent in New York City – which is to say we paid a lot of money in rent. So, so much. I try not to think about it, honestly.

We did it because we love living here, and Brooklyn is home. I considered it a necessary evil of living in the greatest city in the world.

But this January, just after the most uneventful New Year’s Eve in New York City history, we closed on a one bedroom Brooklyn co-op apartment. If you’d asked me in January 2020, “Will you ever buy a home in New York City?” the answer would’ve been simple: “No, not unless we win the lottery.”

Real estate prices in New York are notoriously high, of course, but that’s just one of several issues facing potential buyers. Not only is it expensive, but it’s extremely competitive. Before the pandemic hit, just going to see an available place in Brooklyn meant competing against people with, frankly, a lot more money than me. I am never going to outbid someone who makes $500,000 annually.

So, how did a couple of avocado toast-eating, cold brew-swilling, MacBook-using millennials manage to buy a home in Brooklyn?

Millennial homeowners
The avocado toast tastes so much better when you make it in the kitchen of the home you own.

It boils down to several key factors:

1. We are immensely lucky and privileged.

My wife and I graduated from college directly into the 2008/2009 subprime mortgage-spurred market collapse that led to a massive recession. Unlike so many of our peers, we were both tremendously lucky to get jobs directly out of college doing what we went to college to do: I am a journalist and my wife is an environmental scientist. I consider myself particularly lucky in this respect, as the media business isn’t known for its stability.

We are also both white Americans, which confers a variety of privileges throughout our lives. Literally everything was easier because of these factors, and must be acknowledged up front.

Because we were lucky enough to have steady employment for years after college, we had good credit scores from years of paying bills on time. That steady employment history coupled with good credit scores meant we were easily pre-qualified for home loans at low rates.

Notably, we don’t have kids, and we saved money steadily for several years before beginning this process.

2. The pandemic.

QUEENS, NEW YORK - MARCH 30: Two members of the Fire Department of New York"u2019s Emergency Medical Team wheel in a patient with potentially fatal coronavirus to the Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York City on March 30, 2020. New York City is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, putting historic pressure on a world-renowned healthcare system as the number of confirmed cases in the area grows. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)
Two members of the Fire Department of New York Emergency Medical Team wheel in a patient with potentially fatal coronavirus to the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, New York City on March 30, 2020. New York City was the epicenter of the American coronavirus outbreak.

Above all else, the global pandemic was the most immediate reason we were able to buy an apartment.

If it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic, the housing market wouldn’t have been in the gutter. If it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic, we would’ve had to compete with crowds of interested buyers. If it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic, mortgage rates would’ve priced us out of the market.

It’s horrifically sad that this is the case, but it’s very much the truth. We locked in a 30-year fixed-rate home loan at a 2.75% interest rate. That is a historically low rate, and enables us to afford the monthly payments. In fact, our monthly payment is just a touch higher than our last rent price.

Unlike rent, though, our mortgage price doesn’t increase over time. If we choose to move, we can sell the place and are likely to earn some money on the sale thanks to Brooklyn’s already rebounding real estate market. The benefits of homeownership over renting, at least in this respect, are so profound that they’re almost comical. In 10 years, when our mortgage is the same but average NYC rent prices have increased dramatically, we’ll really feel the difference.

3. Timing was critical.

In mid-August 2020, about five months into pandemic lockdowns, a really obnoxious piece was published in the New York Post where a former hedge fund manager Manhattanite declared New York City “dead forever” because he saw a video of Black Lives Matter protesters trying to break into his skyscraper. It was part of a gaggle of trend pieces that summer in which panicked rich people speculated that the pandemic would be the end of New York City.

That struck me as the perfect time to start looking for apartments: If the rich are fleeing, and the home loan rate is low, I figured, maybe there would be a chance for us.

It turns out that was more or less accurate: We only saw five, maybe six places, and we saw them at our leisure. Because of the pandemic, all showings were by appointment only, so there was no pressure to outbid other buyers on the spot.

Also because of the pandemic, a lot of people in our situation – married millennials in their mid-30s – were fleeing to the suburbs. It was as close as Brooklyn gets to a buyer’s market for a young-ish couple.

In the end, our offer was accepted for (slightly) below the listing price. For what we paid for a one bedroom apartment, we could own a pretty nice suburban home. But we don’t want a pretty nice suburban home, and we didn’t have to settle for one.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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A New York City investment manager has been charged with stealing over $2.4 million through PPP loans

ppp loan application
A page from the PPP loan application that people have to fill out for financial support due to the continuing outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is pictured on a desk in New York U.S., May 7, 2020.

  • New York City prosecutors charged a man with stealing over $2.4 million through PPP loans.
  • The man is accused of applying for five PPP loans and lying about the number of employees he had.
  • Prosecutors alleged he transferred the “vast majority” of the money to personal trading accounts.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A New York City investment manager was charged Friday with stealing more than $2.4 million from five lending institutions through Payment Protection Program loans, prosecutors said in a statement.

Gregory Blotnick, 33, is accused of applying for five separate PPP loans between April 2020 and August 2020, and lying about the number of employees he had at his companies, Brattle Street Capital LLC and BSC Management LLC.

While the loans were meant to cover payroll costs, prosecutors accused Blotnick of instead transferring a “vast majority” of the money to his personal trading accounts and losing it in the market.

“As alleged, Mr. Blotnick repeatedly took advantage of a system intended to provide lifelines to small businesses and their employees during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement.

Blotnick has been charged with five counts of second-degree grand larceny, five counts of second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud.

“At a time when nearly 3,000 businesses were forced to close their doors across New York City, Mr. Blotnick diverted millions in vital PPP funds for his own personal gain,” Vance’s statement said.

It’s unclear whether Blotnick has entered a plea. Insider could not immediately locate an attorney for Blotnick, and his Linkedin page appears to have been taken down. Insider also could not immediately locate representatives for Blotnick’s companies.

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Beijing has surpassed New York City to become the new billionaire capital of the world

beijing china
For the first time ever, Beijing is home to more billionaires than NYC.

The world officially has a new billionaire capital. For the first time ever, Beijing is home to more billionaires than New York City, according to Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires List for 2021.

The Chinese capital gained 33 new billionaires in 2020, bringing its total to 100 billionaires and just edging out New York City’s 99 billionaires, per Forbes. The Big Apple added only seven new billionaires in the same time span. In terms of total population, New York City is about 40% of the size of Beijing, with a population of 8.4 million versus Beijing’s roughly 21 million.

Beijing’s richest resident is Zhang Yiming, the founder of TikTok parent company ByteDance, who’s worth $35.6 billion. In New York City, ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg is the wealthiest, with a net worth of $59 million.

TikTok founder Zhang Yiming
TikTok founder Zhang Yiming is Beijing’s richest resident, with a $35.6 billion net worth.

The US has long been home to more billionaires than any other country in the world, but China has been catching up. China and Hong Kong have minted 210 new billionaires in the past year, more than any other nation, according to the Forbes report.

Five Chinese cities rank among the 10 cities with the most billionaires, including special administrative region Hong Kong in third place with 80 billionaires, Shenzhen in fifth with 68, and Shanghai in sixth place with 64.

The only other US city to make the list was San Francisco, ranked eighth with 48 billionaires.

The world’s ultra-wealthy got even richer last year despite a pandemic and economic recessions. Globally, 660 people became new billionaires, bringing the world total to 2,755 billionaires worth a collective $13.1 trillion, per Forbes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the gap between the world’s billionaires and everybody else. In the US, for example, billionaires grew 44% richer in the pandemic, Lina Batarags recently reported for Insider. In the same time period, 80 million Americans lost their jobs and nearly 8 million slipped into poverty.

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Millionaire New Yorkers are now set to pay the highest taxes in the country

wealthy new yorkers
The wealthiest New Yorkers might see their tax rates increase to the highest in the country.

New York City millionaires will soon be subject to the highest tax rate in the country.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders finalized a $212 billion budget proposal for 2022 on Tuesday that’s set to raise an extra $4.3 billion a year by raising income and corporate taxes, The New York Times’ Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Jesse McKinley reported. The proposal calls for two new personal income-tax brackets, set to expire by the end of 2027, per exclusive details given to the Times earlier this week.

Those earning between $5 million and $25 million will be taxed on 10.3% of their income. That increases to 10.9% for those earning more than $25 million. And individuals raking in over $1 million and couples bringing in over $2 million will see tax rates climb from 8.82% to 9.65%.

These tax rates hit especially hard for New York City’s highest earners. The city already has a top income-tax rate of 3.88%, which means they’ll now be shelling out between 13.5% and 14.8% in both state and city taxes. That exceeds the highest top marginal income tax rate in the country: 13.3% for top earners in California.

However, they may not be the highest taxed for long if Hawaii’s legislature passes a bill imposing a 16% tax on residents earning over $200,000.

New York is dealing with economic pain

Cuomo said in January he planned on raising taxes if the White House didn’t help the state recover from its $15 billion deficit, Insider’s Grace Dean reported. It’s the highest deficit in New York’s history, exceeding the previous high of $10 billion, which Cuomo said was “very, very hard” to manage.

In an address, Cuomo attributed New York’s deficit to the state being “assaulted by the federal government” in recent years as well as to the cost of COVID-19, which caused the state’s revenues to fall by $5.1 billion.

As the epicenter of the US’ first wave of COVID-19, New York City was slammed with small-business closures and saw many of its top-earning residents move to take advantage of lower taxes in other states. Urbanism expert Richard Florida told Insider the flight of the wealthy caused a lot of financial pain for superstar cities like New York.

Cuomo called for the federal government to provide New York with emergency pandemic relief. He said that if Washington gave the state only $6 billion in a “worst-case scenario,” he would hike taxes to cover the difference.

“We have a plan in place, a strength that we have not had before and I believe our future is bright, but Washington must act fairly if we are to emerge on the other side of this crisis,” he said.

While Democrats considered raising more than $7 billion in new revenue for the state, The Times reported, such discussions fell to the side when President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package was approved, which included $12.9 billion in direct aid for New York state. It also included $5.6 billion for New York City, which Insider’s Juliana Kaplan reported might have saved catastrophic cuts to the city budget.

Cuomo has resisted raising taxes for years out of fear it would drive businesses and the wealthy to other states. If all of the wealthiest New Yorkers fled the city, they could take more than $133 billion with them. That’s how much the top 1% of New Yorkers earned in income in 2018, a report from Bloomberg found.

The Times attributed Cuomo’s change of mind to the economic fallout of the pandemic, a growing progressive influence in the legislature, and the governor’s own “waning influence.”

The budget proposal is finalized as Biden reportedly gets even more serious about taxing the wealthy. He’s said that Americans making over $400,000 will see a “small to significant” tax increase and high-earning Americans could see their top income-tax rate increase to 39%.

If Biden’s tax proposal is enacted now that Cuomo’s has been, that means some of the richest New York City dwellers could be paying out more than half of their earnings in taxes.

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