Last night I took part in a panel organized by Fordham University. The topic was “A Home in the City,” and the discussion was about future housing strategies for New York. The talk ranged over modular housing, micro apartments, affordable housing, single-room occupancy, and zoning regulations. Of course, everyone knows that housing in New York is very expensive–although not equally expensive for everyone. More than 400,000 New Yorkers live in public housing, and almost a third of New Yorkers live in rent-controlled apartments. Furthermore, as Mary Anne Gilmartin, the CEO of Forest City Ratner, observed, under current regulations new housing developments are required to provide 20 percent affordable units, that is, the expensive market housing subsidizes the lower-income tenants. “Affordable” in this case is a relative term: qualifying annual income for a family of four is $85,900. After the panel, I spoke to Rosemary Wakeman, chair of urban studies at Fordham, who made the point that the unspoken sentiment that lay beneath the surface of the symposium was the feeling of helplessness that middle-class New Yorkers currently had, surrounded by ever more new condo towers for the world’s super-rich. You walk down the street and see the darkened getaways of Russian oligarchs, she said. That reminded me of Lenin’s Theory of Housing. There is no such thing as a housing problem, he said. You simply divide the housing stock by the number of people that require to be housed and that is the amount of space each citizen gets. Which is precisely what European Communist regimes during the Cold War did. Every citizen had the right to a certain number of square meters of housing, if your dwelling happened to be larger, you had to accept another occupant or two; if you were lucky–or knew whom to bribe–they would be relatives or friends. The Lenin Theory would solve New York’s housing problem overnight, although it would hardly make the Russian oligarchs happy. Been there, done that.