NYC Mayor Candidates Shaun Donovan, Ray McGuire Think Average Brooklyn Home Costs $100K

Two Democratic candidates vying to be the next mayor of New York City, former Citigroup executive Raymond McGuire and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, both expressed their belief that the median sales price of a Brooklyn home is at most $100,000.

The two joined 14 other Democratic mayoral candidates in speaking with The New York Times for endorsement interviews published Monday. Both men appeared completely removed from the city's real estate reality during their separate discussions, missing the cost of an average Brooklyn home or apartment by about $800,000. The candidates' responses were widely mocked on social media Tuesday as they prepare for the upcoming mayoral Democratic primary scheduled for June 22. The most recent U.S. Census data shows the average individual income in Kings County, also known as the borough of Brooklyn, hovers around $32,000 a year.

By comparison, tech entrepreneur and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang was the only mayoral hopeful to correctly estimate the Brooklyn home cost at $900,000. Two other candidates - attorney Maya Wiley and former NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer - guessed that the price exceeded $1 million, with Wiley suggesting it costs $1.8 million.

New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay asked Donovan, "Do you happen to know what the median sales price for a home is in Brooklyn right now?"

"In Brooklyn, huh? I don't know for sure. I would guess it is around $100,000," Donovan responded.

"It's $900,000," Gay replied, prompting the mayoral candidate to question if that was just a "median home, including apartments?"

Asking almost the identical question to McGuire, Gay said, "And just answer this to the best of your ability, obviously. What is the median sales price for a home or apartment in Brooklyn?"

"In Brooklyn, that number has gone up now. It depends on where in Brooklyn," McGuire replied. "It's got to be somewhere in the $80,000 to $90,000 range, if not higher.

Again pulling the rug out from underneath the Democratic hopeful's real estate estimation, Gay replied, "The median sales price for a home in Brooklyn is $900,000."

The founder of the political consulting firm Seneca Strategies, Monica Klein, joined others on social media blasting the seemingly aloof answers. "How can you fix the city's housing crisis if you're this oblivious?" she tweeted Tuesday, highlighting both interview responses. City residents and political strategists alike noted that Donovan's answer is particularly troubling given that he served as HUD Secretary under former President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2014.

But others appeared to give Donovan's answer a pass because of a clarification later in the interview where he said he misunderstood the question initially. "Mr. Donovan later emailed to say that his $100,000 answer referred to the assessed value of homes in Brooklyn," reads an editor's note on the story.

"I really don't think you can buy a house in Brooklyn today for that little," Donovan added.

Newsweek reached out to the campaigns of both Donovan and McGuire Tuesday afternoon for additional remarks.

Despite there being 16 Democrats vying to win the upcoming mayoral primary for New York, most attention has been focused on the top two polling candidates, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a retired member of the NYPD.

Brooklyn Heights
A Brooklyn borough apartment is shown in New York City. Auseklis/Getty Images