TIME On Our Radar

See Everyday Life in New York City’s Projects

Inhabitants were given cameras to document their own lives

Since its initiation in 1935, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has built hundreds of apartment blocks for hundreds of thousands of medium and low-income New Yorkers. The agency’s commitment to providing high-standard affordable housing was once widely admired and imitated around the country.

Today, these identifiable redbrick buildings have increasingly come to represent little more than physical proof of the city’s crime rates, and are regularly featured in tabloids and Hollywood films, says Jonathan Fisher, the editor of Project Lives, a photography book on life in public housing seen through the eyes of its inhabitants.

The perpetually biased presentations in the media, Fisher believes, end up doing more harm than good for the already disadvantaged residents. “Every image you saw in the media — they were either perpetrators or victims,” Fisher tells TIME. “There were just no good stories.”

Fisher first became intrigued by the concept in 2010, through conversations with his friend George Carrano, a former Metropolitan Transportation Authority official who has taken to photography in retirement. Together with photographer and educator Chelsea Davis, the three introduced the notion of “participatory photography” to the housing projects, aiming to change the negative perceptions of their living conditions and culture.

“The idea that you can give cameras, equipment and training to people who are marginalized in society and empower them to take their own portraits, find their own narratives, that just seems to be so appealing to us,” Fisher says.

The program offered a 12-week workshop to residents, most of whom are children and seniors. Once a week, Davis, previously the director of another participatory photo project at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for children struggling with cancer, invited residents into the world of photography with an education on inspirational photographers and photo techniques. After each class, she equipped her students with single-usage film cameras and sent them out to “take pictures of your life and of things that are important to you.”

The pictures residents brought back surprised them.

“[We] felt we might get back pictures of the broken toilets that hadn’t flushed in two years, and the crime chalk marks on the sidewalk, all kinds of other horrifying images, but we got none of that. We didn’t edit that out,” Fisher says. “All we got was these wonderful pictures of [people] celebrating their lives.”

Jared Wellington, 14, a former resident of the Red Hook housing project in Brooklyn, New York, participated in the program two years ago, during which he turned his lens onto his everyday life. “I try to find myself in my photos,” he explains. “I try to show how I see my friends, family and neighbors.”

“He just carried the camera like it was part of him,” his mother Celia tells TIME. And while the family cannot afford a camera, Wellington keeps making pictures using his mother’s cell phone and is inspired to continue studying photography.

Project Lives, published by powerHouse Books, is available here.

Ye Ming is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

MONEY Taxes

Want to Pay Lower Taxes? Here’s Where You Should Move

Downtown, Juneau, Alaska
Jochen Tack—Alamy Juneau, Alaska

Leave New York for Alaska.

If you want to keep a bigger portion of your paycheck next year, pick up and head west. According to a new report from WalletHub, the states with the lowest tax burdens on the middle class include Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming. The states with the heaviest tax burdens on the middle class: New York, Illinois, Arkansas, Hawaii, and Maryland.

In fact, you’ll pay the fewest taxes in Alaska whether you’re rich, poor, or somewhere in the middle. Altogether, low earners pay an average of 5.4% of their income in total taxes (including sales taxes, property taxes, and income taxes), middle earners pay an average of 4.5%, and high earners pay an average of just 3.4%.

Compare that to New York state, where households earning $50,000 pay an average of 12.4% of income in taxes. WalletHub found that New York state was the worst state for middle and high earners and the eighth worst for low earners.

Here are the full rankings.

The five states where middle earners (households making $50,000) pay the least:

  1. Alaska
  2. Delaware
  3. Nevada
  4. Montana
  5. Wyoming

The five states where middle earners (households making $50,000) pay the most:

  1. New York
  2. Illinois
  3. Arkansas
  4. Hawaii
  5. Maryland

The five states where high earners (households making $150,000) pay the least:

  1. Alaska
  2. Wyoming
  3. Nevada
  4. Tennessee
  5. South Dakota

The five states where high earners (households making $150,000) pay the most:

  1. New York
  2. Connecticut
  3. Maryland
  4. New Jersey
  5. Minnesota

The five states where low-income earners (households making $25,000) pay the least:

  1. Alaska
  2. Delaware
  3. Montana
  4. Nevada
  5. South Carolina

The five states where low-income earners (households making $25,000) pay the most:

  1. Washington
  2. Hawaii
  3. Illinois
  4. Arizona
  5. Ohio

Read the full WalletHub report here.

For answers to your tax questions, check out MONEY’s 2015 Tax Guide:
11 Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund
Don’t Make These 8 Classic Tax Filing Fails
Why the IRS Probably Won’t Audit Your Return This Year

TIME Israel

7 Children Killed in House Fire Brought to Israel for Burial

Fatal Brooklyn Fire
Julio Cortez—AP Mourners attend funeral services for the seven siblings killed in a house fire in Brooklyn on March 22, 2015

The family had moved about a year and a half ago from East Jerusalem

(NEW YORK) — The bodies of seven siblings who died in a house fire are headed to Israel for burial, a day after their sobbing father told mourners in his ultra-Orthodox Jewish community how much joy they had brought him.

“They were so pure,” Gabriel Sassoon said Sunday of his children during a eulogy. “My wife, she came out fighting.”

Flames engulfed the family’s two-story, brick-and-wood home in Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood early Saturday, likely after a hot plate left on a kitchen counter set off the fire that trapped the children and badly injured their mother and another sibling, investigators said.

The tragedy had some neighborhood Jews reconsidering the practice of keeping hot plates on for the Sabbath, a common modern method of obeying tradition prohibiting use of fire on the holy day.

The service at the Shomrei Hadas funeral home began with prayers in Hebrew, accompanied by the wailing voices of mourners. They could be heard through speakers that broadcast the rite to thousands of people gathered outside on the streets in traditional black robes and flat-brimmed hats.

After the funeral, mourners hugged the sides of SUVs with flashing lights that took the bodies of the children, ages 5 to 16 — accompanied by their father — to John F. Kennedy International Airport for the flight to Israel.

Sassoon’s surviving wife and a daughter — Gayle Sassoon and 14-year-old Siporah Sassoon — remained in critical condition on respirators.

“My children were unbelievable. They were the best,” Sassoon said at their funerals, calling them “angels.”

Authorities identified the victims as girls Eliane, 16; Rivkah, 11; and Sara, 6; and boys David, 12; Yeshua, 10; Moshe, 8; and Yaakob, 5.

“Eliane was a spirited child. Rivkah, she had so much joy,” their father said.

Rivkah “gave joy to everybody,” he said. “And David, he was so fun.”

Yeshua was “always trying to make others happy,” as was Yaakob, Sassoon said.

At the time of the fire, Sassoon — a religious education instructor — was in Manhattan at a Shabbaton, an educational retreat.

The hot plate was left on for the Sabbath, which lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Many religious Jews use one to keep food warm, obeying the traditional prohibition on use of fire on the holy day as well as work in all forms, including turning on appliances.

The Sassoons’ hot plate apparently malfunctioned, setting off flames that tore up the stairs, trapping the children in their second-floor bedrooms as they slept, investigators said.

A neighbor, Karen Rosenblatt, said she called 911 after seeing flames and smoke billowing from the home. Her husband said he heard “what seemed like a young girl scream, ‘Help me! Help me!'” she said.

Firefighters arrived in less than four minutes and discovered the badly burned and distraught mother pleading for help, officials said. When they broke in the door, they encountered a raging fire that had spread through the kitchen, dining room, common hall, stairway leading upstairs and the rear bedrooms.

“I couldn’t help crying my heart out as I saw the house,” said Dalia Hen, 51, a Midwood neighbor. “It’s like our own children.”

State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents Midwood, said he’s hearing from more and more people concerned about use of the hot plates on Sabbath. He said he called his daughter, who has six children and uses a hot plate, and told her, “You’ve got to stop using that.”

“This is an important wakeup call for people, because it may save your life or the life of your children,” he said.

Shifra Schorr, 44, a mother of five a few blocks from the Sassoon house, said she and her friends don’t use hot plates, but “we’re all talking about it.”

Earlier at the family’s fire-gutted home on Bedford Avenue, a police officer stood guard as contractors boarded up windows with plywood.

Across the street from the Sassoon home, 89-year-old Izzy Abade said he’d watched Gayle Sassoon grow up, then her children.

“They used to play right across the street, riding bikes, playing in the backyard, playing ball.”

The family had moved about a year and a half ago from East Jerusalem, a contested part of the city where both Arabs and Jews live.

“There’s only one way to survive this,” Gabriel Sassoon said of his children’s deaths. “There is only total and complete, utter surrender.”

TIME Transportation

Uber Cars Outnumber Yellow Cabs on Streets of New York

Taxis New York
Mario Tama—Getty Images Taxis pass Broadway theater billboards in Times Square in New York City.

Statistics from NYC’s taxi regulator reveal an important milestone for the ride-sharing service

Uber cars have overtaken yellow cabs on the streets of New York City.

There are 14,088 registered Uber cars compared with 13,587 yellow taxis, according to new statistics from New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The figures, reported by the AP, reflect the rapid expansion of the ride-sharing service, which was introduced in New York in 2011.

But as the AP notes, the numbers don’t mark the demise of the yellow cab just yet. While there are more registered Uber cars, there are still roughly 15 times as many daily rides in yellow cabs as there are in Uber vehicles.

Uber drivers are likely to own their car and drive less than 40 hours per week, while yellow taxis are generally owned by companies that find drivers for the cars during all hours of the week.

[AP]

TIME Food & Drink

Starbucks Plans to Launch Delivery Service

Empire State Building Run
Mark Lennihan—AP The Empire State Building and the Manhattan skyline on Oct. 5, 2014.

Work in the Empire State Building? Then you're in luck

Starbucks says it plans to launch trials of a delivery service in the second half of 2015 — but only if you live in Seattle, or work in New York City’s Empire State Building.

Sometime within the year, Starbucks will start two different delivery trials, the Seattle Times reports. The version in New York City will be limited exclusively to within the Empire State Building. The company will have employees from the Starbucks located in the building deliver beverages and food to customers who work there.

In Seattle, the company will be following a more traditional delivery approach, using on-demand delivery startup Postmates to deliver coffee, pastries and other sundries via car and bicycle.

People in these two catchment areas can use the Starbucks app to follow the status of their drink. To use the app, customers have to be a member of the company’s loyalty program.

[The Seattle Times]

Read next: Starbucks ‘Race Together’ Initiative Is Brilliant

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME stocks

The Average Wall Street Bonus Was $172,860 in 2014

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly before the end of the day's trading in New York July 31, 2013
Lucas Jackson—Reuters A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly before the end of the day's trading in New York July 31, 2013

But that's only a 2% rise on the previous year

Despite falling profits, the average bonus on Wall Street rose to $172,860 last year, according to a report released Wednesday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

That marks a 2% increase from 2013 and is the highest average payout since 2007 — right before the financial crisis.

The bump comes as estimated pre-tax profits fell by 4.5% from $16.7 billion in 2013 to $16 billlion last year.

“The cost of legal settlements related to the 2008 financial crisis continues to be a drag on Wall Street profits, but the securities industry remains profitable and well-compensated even as it adjusts to regulatory changes,” DiNapoli said in a press release.

The New York Office of the State Comptroller, whose main duty is to audit government operations and operate the retirement system, has been tracking the average bonus paid on Wall Street for nearly three decades. When it began recording in 1986, the average payout was $14,120. The highest average bonus was $191,360 in 2006.

After two years of job losses, the industry added 2,300 jobs in 2014 to a total of 167,800 workers.

TIME Crime

Man Arrested in New York for Injuring Pilots With Lasers, Police Say

"[The laster] actually blinded us for a split second," one officer said

Police arrested a man Monday who allegedly gave four pilots, including two police helicopter pilots, eye injuries after pointing a laser at multiple aircraft departing from and arriving at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Police charged Frank Egan, 36, with assault on a police officer, felony assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon after they traced the source of the laser beam to his Bronx apartment, the New York Times reports. Police say they recovered a machine labeled “Laser 303” from the apartment and that Egan admitted to using the laser that night.

Egan’s lawyer, Francis J. O’Reilly, said that his client was sleeping at the time of the investigation.

The two police officers injured by the laser say they were on board a helicopter investigating the cause of the beam when the it was directed into the cockpit and turned everything green. “[The laster] actually blinded us for a split second,” Officer Royston Charles told NBC.

The laser was not an isolated incident, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which reported that there were 41 cases of lasers at LaGuardia airport in 2014.

[NYT]

MONEY First-Time Dad

Why This Millennial Is Kissing the City Goodbye

Luke Tepper
This time next year, Luke will hopefully be playing on grass.

MONEY writer and first-time dad Taylor Tepper announces his retirement from urban living.

Renters in New York City have a uniquely dysfunctional relationship with real estate: The more time we spend living in some of the most desirable housing in the world, the less happy we become. Or maybe that’s just me.

My wife and I pay $2,100 a month for what seems like two square feet and minimal natural light in a converted hospital in a cool Brooklyn neighborhood. There’s an artisanal pizza shop, hole-in-the-wall cafe, and kid-friendly beer garden right around the block. I’m a 15-minute walk from a major metropolitan museum, botanical gardens, and the best park in all of New York. When it’s warm I bike, toss the frisbee, and drink whisky on rooftops. The beach is only 30 minutes away.

Unfortunately, warmth doesn’t last forever, and when it gets cold outside—say, from Thanksgiving to Easter—I spend more time indoors. Which means I’m trapped with a 21-pound baby monster who smashes, grabs, and pounds anything he can get his hands on, from cellphones to lamps. As a result, I’m slowly devolving into madness. Spending hours upon hours inside with two other people, only one of whom yields to reason, punctuated by intermittent excursions into tundra-like conditions, makes it seem as if the walls are slowly inching in on themselves.

Don’t get me wrong—I love the city, I went to school in New York, I’ve lived here for almost the entirety of my adult life. But after 13 months as a father and 19 months as a husband, I’m ready to escape to the land of malls and carpool lanes, single-unit houses and trees, the land of my birth: suburbia.

That said, it’s one thing to want move, it’s another to actually do it. Here’s a window into my thought process—and that of other millennials facing the same decision.

We’d Still Be Renters

Years of high rent and monthly student loan bills, combined with the cost of childcare, made it next to impossible for us to save up for a down payment. So we’re looking to rent wherever we go, which should mean more money left over for us. According to NerdWallet.com’s cost of living calculator, we could reduce our housing costs by about 25% if we moved to northern New Jersey or Long Island.

Even if we had enough funds stashed in our joint bank account, there are a couple of reasons why a home purchase would be a poor move. For one, conventional wisdom states that your target property should be no more than two and a half times your gross income. The odds that we’d find a New York-area home in the $300,000 range that’d we’d actually want to live in are low.

OK, let’s say that we had the savings and lived in a less expensive city. Should we jump into the market then? Not necessarily, says Pensacola, Fla.-based financial planner Matt Becker.

“Don’t rush to buy a house just because you want to go the suburbs,” Becker says. “That can lead to a quick financial decision as opposed to a good one.” Since transaction costs are so high, we’d need to stay in the home for a number of years to for buying to make financial sense. And who knows if we’ll want to live in a particular town for that long? My wife and I are still early on in our careers, we could end up lots of places.

Even Though Now Is a Good Time to Buy

If your bank account is fatter than ours and you’re ready plant some roots, buying might make sense. In fact, if you can get a mortgage, now is a great time to buy, since 30-year mortgage rates are absurdly low. Mortgage behemoths Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced late last year that they would allow down payments of as low as 3% on some mortgages. (These moves were directed at people who haven’t owned a home for three years, or are in the market for their first house.)

Once you’ve made the decision to move, you need to think about where you’d like to spend the next seven to 10 years. While we need more space, I don’t want to give up some of the best aspects of the city—good restaurants, a sense of community, hipster/independent movie theaters—in the trade. In that regard I’m like a lot of young buyers, says Greensboro, N.C.-based Realtor Sandra O’Connor. “There’s real movement among millennials who are looking for places to live with walkable areas,” she says. “They don’t want to always be in their car.”

If you’re still undecided about whether renting or buying is the better choice for you, check out Trulia’s rent or buy tool. Those who fall in the rent camp should understand that finding rental units outside of cities can be a lengthy process, per O’Connor and Becker.

All Suburbs Are Not Created Equal

So I want to move, but where should I go? I put the question to Alison Bernstein, president of the Suburban Jungle Realty Group, a firm that specializes in helping its clients find the best New York City suburb for them. Bernstein says that city dwellers eager to jump need to “understand that a house is a house, but the dynamic of a town is very difficult to grasp.”

To that end, Bernstein laid out a number of questions that anyone thinking about relocating needs to consider:

How many working moms are in town? What type of industries are there? What’s the breakdown of private versus public school? Even if the schools are highly ranked, there are towns where there is a lot of momentum to send kids to private schools and this does change the personality of the town quite a bit. What do you do over the summer? Does the entire town empty out? Does everyone hang out at the pool? Who is moving to the town? How will that change the school system and the vibe over the next 10 years?

Bernstein has also noticed a few trends with today’s younger buyers. “They are happiest with a smaller piece of property, a more modest home, and being in a more cosmopolitan suburb. Also they are not plowing every last penny into their house. They are still budgeting for travel.”

The Costs of Commuting

Right now I pay $112 a month (soon to be $116) for a 30-day subway pass to get to the office. We are only a 20-minute drive from my wife’s work, which means we shell out a very reasonable $50 a month on gas. When we move to the suburbs we will pay more. For the sake of argument, let’s say that we end up relocating to Pelham, New York, just north of the city. My monthly bill rises to $222, while my wife’s morning drive will consume almost twice as much gasoline, meaning our monthly outlay will jump by about $160.

But that’s just the money. The time we spend going from home to work and back will grow as well. Doing some back of the envelope calculations, my in-transit time will increase by 10 minutes each way, while Mrs. Tepper will spend an additional 20 minutes or so in traffic. Combined we’ll endure about an hour more per day on our commute, which sends shivers down my spine.

There are a few positives about the longer commute, though. For one, car insurance is generally cheaper outside of the city. According to CarInsurance.com, the average rate in my neighborhood is a little less than two times that of Pelham’s. While I wouldn’t necessarily expect to cut our car insurance costs in half, this savings would take a bit of the sting out of much higher commuting costs.

Aside from lower insurance rates, we could also dedicate a portion of our new abode as a work space. As Mrs. Tepper and I advance in our careers, we hope to have more leeway in terms of a flexible work arrangement. While our commute might be longer, we’ll most likely have to do it less often. And each saved car ride is more money in our pockets.

The Tradeoffs

Getting older involves a series of decisions that have the net effect of limiting one’s personal freedom. I became a journalist, which means I couldn’t be a doctor (leaving aside the question of whether or not I had skill to do it in the first place). Marrying one woman, and being keen on staying married, means I can’t marry a different one. A life in one town is a life not lived in another.

Which is all to say that I’ll miss living in Brooklyn. Despite the hipster clichés, I really do enjoy artisanal, delicious, overpriced hamburgers and 17 different IPA varieties at my bars. I like walking everywhere, even if we have a car, and a touch of self-righteousness about your home is good for the soul.

But I think of my sojourn in New York’s best borough as I think of college: I wish I could stay forever, but it’s time to move on.

Financial planner Matt Becker understands my dilemma. He recently moved from Boston to suburb-rich Pensacola and is still adjusting to his new life. He walks less and drives more. While his young family has more space to play and grow, that also means he has more house to furnish and air condition, which means more costs. I imagine we’ll encounter something similar.

The combination, though, of high rent and minimal space has lost its luster. Even if we end up breaking even in our move, or only saving a little bit, our dollars will go further. We can have a backyard for our son and our dog and us. We’ll have a laundry machine on the premises, so we don’t have to lug 20 pounds of clothes a couple of blocks through the snow. We’ll have a full-size dishwasher.

I proudly proclaim without regret what might have depressed my younger self: these amenities are more appealing than staying in Brooklyn.

More From the First-Time Dad:

TIME energy

New York Residents Talk Secession in Regards to Big Fracking Upset

A woman holds an anti-fracking sign as a group of demonstrators gather for a rally for a Global Climate Treaty on Dec. 10, 2014 in New York City.
DON EMMERT—AFP/Getty Images A woman holds an anti-fracking sign as a group of demonstrators gather for a rally for a Global Climate Treaty on Dec. 10, 2014 in New York City.

The most affected communities lie along the east-west line between the Empire and Keystone states

One could argue America was conceived from intense frustration that ultimately led to separation. Fed up with what they perceived as excessive control by the Crown, colonists to the “New England,” in essence, seceded in 1776, and thus the United States was born.

Now, there is a renewed and growing secession conversation brewing in the New England region, this time fueled by a commodity: Natural gas. Infuriated by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s December decision to permanently instill a ban against hydraulic fracture stimulation, or fracking, residents in 15 communities in the Southern Tier of New York are discussing the possibility of redrawing the border between New York and Pennsylvania.

Most affected are communities that lie along the east-west line between the Empire and Keystone states. Dairy farms dot the landscape, and in Pennsylvania, where fracking is encouraged, farmers are building new barns, buying new equipment and communities are adding schools and hospitals. In contrast, only a few miles to the north, farms that have been in families for generations lie dilapidated. Equipment is old, and there are few signs of construction.

Read more: New England Growing More Dependent On Natural Gas

Karen Moreau is the Executive Director of the New York State Petroleum Council and is passionate about the plight of these residents. “He (Governor Cuomo) wiped out the hopes, the dreams, the opportunity for economic salvation for thousands and thousands of struggling farm families, rural communities and others who have stood by, civilly waiting, expecting the government to do the right thing, to do the honest thing, and instead this is what they were given,” she said.

Moreau characterizes the stark difference on either side of the state line as “East Berlin and West Berlin,” citing added burdens of excessive property taxes and some of the most expensive natural gas in the country. “For a 200 acre dairy farm with a modest home and buildings that aren’t so great, the property taxes are $20,000 a year,” she says. “Even though they have all this natural gas in the ground, they really don’t have any infrastructure, so their energy costs are among the highest in the nation as well,” Moreau added, saying it’s not unusual for families to burn wood to provide heat.

Cuomo instilled the permanent ban on December 17, 2014 following comments by acting health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker who said, “I consider the people of the state of New York as my patients. We cannot afford to make a mistake. The potential risks are too great, in fact they are not fully known.”

Read more: Big Oil Going On The Offensive

A recent Quinnipiac University poll indicated most New York voters agree with the Governor’s decision by a 55-25 percent margin.

In a double-blow to Southern Tier residents, on the same day Cuomo instilled the permanent fracking ban, the state also shot down two applications for casinos in the region.

Although acknowledged as a long shot, state legislator, Republican Tom Libous of Binghamton, mailed a survey to his constituents asking if they were interested in secession. Realigning state lines would require coordinated efforts from both state legislatures and the federal government. Meanwhile, these New Yorkers will continue to look across the border and will observe continued economic prosperity through the years, realizing the only thing separating them are a few very long miles.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

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