New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was "distressing" that the extremely rich around the world, especially from Russia, are buying up the city's real estate with "ill-gotten gains" — but said he doens't know what to do to stop it.
De Blasio's comments, on BuzzFeed News's morning show AM to DM, came as the city faces a crisis of affordable housing. The mayor campaigned for his first term on closing the income gap between rich and poor in New York City, but solving the issue of once-affordable neighborhoods becoming unaffordable for many has eluded him.
"New York City, as it has boomed and become this real luxury city over the last decade, has become a place for rich Russians in particular as well as others to essentially launder money. To take assets that they're trying to get out of other parts of the world and put them into New York real estate," BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith asked. "Do you see that as a problem?"
"I see Russian oligarchs as a problem," de Blasio said. "I think what has happened in Russia is deeply deeply troubling across the board."
Asked if it concerns him they have apartments in New York City, de Blasio said, "of course."
"Let's go to the root of it," de Blasio said. "What's happening in Russia in general, the fact that that oligarchy, that people who basically stole the wealth of their country with the help of their government."
"As people with a lot of ill-gotten gains buying a lot of property, I don't like it one bit, I wish i had a specific law or approach to address it, I haven't found one yet."