I knew that I was opening up a can of worms when I published Debbie’s letter about the price of KGH real estate. The emails, text messages, as well as phone calls started that very Motza’ei Shabbos. Some were supportive, others were not. There is no right or wrong response or opinion about this issue. What I think most of the email writers and some of the texters (How did you all get my number, because I know I don’t know you, and I know you didn’t get it from my father) missed the entire point of my original article, regarding the subject matter and the letter published a couple of weeks ago: I love KGH. I think it is a wonderful community to grow up in and to raise a family in, but unfortunately, because of the jump in real estate prices, I can’t afford to stay – and I’m disappointed about that. That’s it. Simple. I don’t hate this town or those who have bought homes or have had homes bought for them here.
Some of the responses used very unpleasant language and were downright mean. Great. I love that you are loyal to KGH. It’s loyal residents like you that will help KGH grow and continue to be the wonderful frum community it is today. But really, save all that fierceness for something or a topic that really matters, and not my little column.
And for those of you who can’t understand that a relationship isn’t always between two people, that it can be between any two things, then I can’t help you. I am in a loving relationship with this town, but it’s one that won’t stand the test of time.
Below are some of the shorter emails and text messages I received.
Why can’t you let sleeping dogs lie? Why are you stirring the pot and getting everyone riled up about KGH and real estate prices? Didn’t your first article about this teach you anything?
My quick response: One of the many things that my first article about this topic taught me was that people have a lot to say on the matter. So, I’m revisiting it, giving more people a chance to have their say.
My husband and I are in our late 30s. Baruch Hashem, my husband has a wonderful job that pays well. Because of that, we were able to buy a house in Kew Gardens Hills without any help from either of our parents. Besides, neither of our parents lives in Queens, so we are the ones inviting Bubby and Saba over for birthdays and Yom Tov. It’s not only those with rich parents who are able to buy houses in Queens. You can’t make a general statement like that.
My quick response: Rochel, please don’t mistake the words I wrote or that Debbie wrote as whining. Sure, I’d love to raise my family here, but even if I was able to afford the price of a house that I envisioned living in, I can get more bang for my buck, as someone else put it, in another neighborhood. Baruch Hashem, your husband is earning a very good salary at his “wonderful job that pays well.” I don’t envy you for a moment in regard to that. Go live the best life you can live, and I’ll do the same.
Thank you for writing about this topic again. I wanted to write to you the first time, but I didn’t. This is my time to redeem myself. I don’t want to see the neighborhood age and become a retirement village because younger families can’t afford the real estate prices. Besides buying houses, new owners are tearing them down to build a mansion on a 40x60 lot or whatever the size is. That’s at least a million and a half dollars or something close, straight off the bat. How can that be affordable? It can’t be. Debbie is right: Unless younger families have help from parents or a y’rushah, I’m afraid that the younger ones will become less and less. I myself had to watch my children and nephews move out of Queens and surrounding areas because of the pricing. It’s sad.
My quick response: I don’t want to see Kew Gardens Hills become a retirement village either. True, if younger families can’t afford to move in, the older generation will be the only ones left and then what? But I don’t think we are close to that situation yet. And, baruch Hashem, families are moving in. I see the scaffolding and construction sites, as well. You can’t fault someone for buying a house and doing whatever they want with it if they can afford it.
Someone has to tell you this, and obviously you were never told this as a child, so I will be the one to say it: You are wrong. Some families can’t afford to buy a house, but they can rent houses or apartments. This is not an emergency issue that has to be discussed a second time. It’s not like the shidduch crisis (which I have my own opinions about). Goodbye to those of you who choose to move. No one is running after you with a pitchfork. It’s your choice, so don’t blame your financial situation on the price of houses or the neighborhood.
My quick response: Moshe, every article that I write is an opinion piece. How many times have I said that it doesn’t matter if people agree or disagree with me. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. And if I may respectfully correct you: You, sir, are the wrong one. There is no right or wrong in a subjective matter. There’s a right and wrong in math and science, because it can be proven, so don’t tell me 1+1=5. True, no mob of villagers is chasing me or anyone out, but the prices make it very difficult to buy a house. I don’t want my children growing up in our 825-square-foot apartment. They should have room to run and a room to make their own.
Goodbye, farewell. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
No Signature Was Provided
My quick response: I’d love to say goodbye to you and wish you well when the time is right, but you seemed to have left out your name. They are brave people who can send in their opinions without attaching their names to them.
Unfortunately, I am not like you. I will not go against the crowd. Does that make me a coward? Maybe. But I like the peace – between my husband and me and with my friends. I’ll do whatever I can to avoid an argument. I wish I had the courage like you do, to write about a topic you know is going to receive lots of backlash. I agree with you. I’ve watched friends and family move away for different reasons, but one main one was the price of houses. Please do not let the nasty emails that people will write you affect your writing or who you are as a person.
My quick response: Don’t apologize for going with the crowd and not wanting to cause a ripple by swimming upstream. It’s not for everyone. Peace is important. Peace in relationships is very important. I hope you don’t just go with the flow with everything, and you do get a chance to let people hear what Atara has to say.
TEXT: Here you go again. The corner of shul that I sit in wasn’t davening with kavanah but speaking about your article. Maybe you should stop with the controversial topics.
writer unknown, just a phone number
My quick response: Some may not think this topic is controversial and some may choose to discuss the article after they finish davening. I can’t be responsible for other people and their davening (except my daughters).
TEXT: Great article.
My quick response: Thank you.
TEXT: Sometimes life is fair, but mostly it isn’t. This is one of those instances where it doesn’t seem fair. Prices are jacked up, but salaries aren’t. Many of us – more than you may think – share your opinion. Great article.
My quick response: Yes, plenty is not fair, but Hashem has His plan. Thank you.
TEXT: In the last year, three houses on my block went up for sale for three-quarters of a million dollars. If I was in my 30s with young children, I’d never be able to afford it, plus the cost of living here. You are right: Younger people are leaving by the droves and older people are downsizing and getting as much as they can on a house that hasn’t been touched for ages. Gentiles bought two of the houses. No matter where or when you move, keep on writing.
My quick response: Thank you for your kind words. You can’t blame the older generation for trying to get as much as they can for their house if the market is on their side, but yes, it’s sad that many younger families can’t afford the prices. But that only means more frum communities popping up elsewhere and giving us more choices of where we can move.
Hatzlachah to you all!