I grew up, and live, in places where population loss causes more problems than over-population. As a baby buster, born in the year with the lowest US birth rate until 2010 (and far fewer numbers than 2010,) I experienced this in an exponential manner. One of my elementary schools opened a few years before I attended it, and had so small a group of people that my third grade was in a classroom of mixed second and third graders). The elementary school I went to for kindergarten and first was so small it closed down for Chicken Pox, and closed for good when I was still a kid.
In New York there are six major city areas: New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Binghamton. Of these cites, four have faced serious population loss and the fifth, Albany, has faced moderate population loss.
In New York City, however, there is a problem with overpopulation, in which the number of people seeking apartments does not have anything to do with the number of apartments available. There is also a corruption problem, abuses of Rent Control, and a general nastiness with some landlords.
The United States once went out of its way to settle people out west. We had a view (IMO, a mostly wrong view, but that's irrelevant) that the best thing for the country was to get people out of the "filthy cities" and into the west. We were focused on getting families out there, expanding the US by shipping women and orphans out to the West, in the hopes they'd propagate.
There is a specific population in New York City that I think the cities with population loss should be targeting: Retirees, the disabled and anyone else living on an income that is not dependent upon physically going to a physical location in the city to make a living. In places like Buffalo, people who have a steady income do well, and do well on less income than they do elsewhere in the state. Having more people who are going to spend money in the city is more important than where the money comes from (excluding people getting money illegally.)
Some charitable organization (or maybe even the state itself, in the future) should take it upon themselves to offer a one-time living stipend and resettlement funding for those people on a fixed income who are willing to move west in the state. Rather than focus merely on drawing in young professionals, as our current marketing plans do (and have, without success, for dozens of years) we should focus on drawing in the people who are barely making ends meet in New York City and are only there because they find it more expensive to move.
It was a discussion with one such young man, a disabled veteran, that spurred this idea for me. He estimated it would cost him about $3000 to pick up and move from his tiny apartment, and didn't see a time when he could save that much money. He said that his closest friends were always talking to him on facebook and by email, but that he actually didn't get out that often, in part because he lacked money, and would be leaving very few people behind, as his own family had moved out of state. Those people he cared most about he already said he hardly ever saw in person, he was primarily staying in his city because he didn't feel he had the mobility to get out.
To give you an idea, the house next door to me, which is for sale and is lovely (and mostly handicapped accessible, because of the prior owners) save for having the four smallest bedrooms ever placed in a house, should have a mortgage payment, based on its price, of about $250 a month. It's a quite nice place, within walking distance of a grocery store, next to a church, etc.,etc. $250 dollars is less than what my friend above has left over per month after he pays his rent and various other building related fees. It has to cover his clothes, food, transportation, etc.
If he had a chance to visit out here and tour the neighborhood, he'd see that it's a rich multicultural quilt. On my three-block long street you're likely to hear Arabic, French, Spanish and English spoken, sometimes by only two people, you'll meet senior citizens and young families, new immigrants and people who've lived in these houses since they were built in the early 1920s. He'd meet folks who live on tiny fixed incomes, and people who are doing well. There are veterans and hippies, straight people and gay people. They leave you alone if you're a loner and put up with you if you are not. The biggest gatherings of neighbors are the carnival in the park down the street and a yearly tour of gardens. Everyone has a yard, and most of us have at least one apple, cherry or pear tree.
It's not perfect. We had a stabbing a block over and I'm pretty sure the guy across the street is dealing something worse than pot...which I'm sure he's dealing. Some of the houses have roaches, and some of them have rats (Ulysses brought me a dead rat earlier this year, in fact, and my neighbors came out when I stood in the front yard and shrieked [He startled me with it, okay?].) We've also got eagles, hawks and feral cats. We have a guy who is lawn crazy and a bird hoarder, a guy that fights with his wife loudly three times a week and several people who drink too much, including the guy that apologized to us all VERY LOUDLY for being loud because he was drunk.
We've got a moronic mayor who'll fine you for having grass too long when you live next to a city owned property that gets mowed twice a year, we just got rid of (by sending her to Washington) a county clerk who threatens to sue you for an invisible unregistered dog that only her staff thinks exist. We have an entire population of people who really, really, think Carl Paladino (horse porn guy) is not a raving lunatic. We have an undeserved reputation for snow (and Syracuse doesn't have the reputation for snow it deserves) but when it does snow the city knows how to handle it, and services are hardly every interrupted. We have an undeserved reputation for cold, but I'm growing trifoliate oranges, figs and I'm about to plant a pomegranate, so it's not half as bad as people think. We don't, however, have the reputation we deserve for our summers. We have something called the Oasis effect, which makes Buffalo the Sunniest City in the Northeast during the Summer. The hottest it has ever gotten in Buffalo, in history, is 99 degrees. And really, speaking as a Syracusan who has lived in Philadelphia, Buffalo winters are nothing. We don't get the giant ice storms, and Lake Effect bands are so localized that when one whumped people in South Buffalo and make people stuck behind an accident on the Thruway stuck stuck when it dumped 18inches on the parking lot the road had become, we in Riverside had ZERO inches of snow. ZERO. What you didn't see on that coverage that was on the weather channel was that they had no problem flying in to Buffalo to show you the coverage, or driving around the city, as long as they stayed above the impact zone. More importantly, we just don't get hurricanes (or earthquakes, tornadoes, giant wildfires, volcanoes, etc.)
We get hurt by buildings sitting empty. We need to promote our areas as the places that are great to live if you're on a low fixed income. We need to see the people who have a steady check as a benefit to our cities, not a drain...and yes, we should make it easy for people who would benefit from resettling to resettle.
We recently came up with the world's stupidest slogan, which is made awesome by the fact that a question mark changes it completely. "Buffalo...For real?"
If we could spend one fraction of the dollars, time and mental energies that we spent on "For real" on "For resettlement" we'd actually do something that matters here.