Apartment Rental Vacancy Rate At 3.63% Shows NYC “Housing Emergency.”

19 Mar, 2018

The city’s HPD department survey results trigger renewal of rent regulation protections.


NEW YORK CITY—New York City now has the largest housing stock in its history, with approximately 69,000 units having been added between 2014 and 2017. However, the citywide rental vacancy at 3.63% is well below the 5% mark that triggers the declaration of a “housing emergency.”

These findings were part of New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s 2017 Housing and Vacancy Survey, released on Tuesday. The positive news is incomes have increased more than rents, with incomes up 11.2% while gross rents grew at 6.2%.

“The HVS findings confirm that while we are finally seeing incomes rising more than rents, the city is still facing a dire affordability crisis,” says HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer.  “That is why we must continue to aggressively build and preserve more affordable homes, while also pushing to strengthen rent stabilization laws, so critical to protecting low-cost housing.”

The vacancy rate of rent stabilized housing is approximately 2% and in deeply subsidized units such as public housing or developments with project-based rental assistance, the vacancy rate is less than 1%.

“This survey shows how critical it is to preserve the affordable housing we have, while continuing to add new units to the city’s housing supply. Later this month, the council will be passing legislation to extend rent regulation laws that protect over a million families, and I look forward to working with the administration and the state legislature to close loopholes that have resulted in the loss of affordable housing,” says New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Rent-stabilized tenants benefitted from low rent growth. While private unregulated rents increased by 9.3%, several years of lower rent stabilization annual and two-year increases issued by the Rent Guidelines Board helped moderate the rent growth, keeping it to 2.6% in the rent-stabilized housing stock. The city notes rent-stabilized housing is the largest stock of low-cost housing and generally serves lower-income tenants.

Last Thursday, the Rent Justice Coalition comprising tenants and advocates, with elected officials rallied outside the Rent Guidelines Board’s first meeting at One Centre St. They demanded rent freezes for tenants in rent-stabilized apartment and urged the need for tenants to have a voice at the board’s upcoming hearings.

The group protested landlord overcompensation contrasted with rent-burdened tenants, many low-income families and individuals paying as much as 60% to 70% of their income in rent. The city’s rent stabilization law expires on April 1, 2018. A rent regulation hearing is scheduled for March 19.

Despite the statistics on affordability, the survey nonetheless indicates optimism in neighborhood satisfaction with 76% of people rating their neighborhood conditions as “good or excellent,” a statistic up from 70% in 2011.

State and city rent regulation laws require the survey to determine the overall vacancy rate for rental housing. The US Census Bureau conducts the survey every three years at the request of the city.



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