Survey Brings Mixed Results when Analyzing the Affordability of NYC Housing

Survey Brings Mixed Results when Analyzing the Affordability of NYC Housing

While the full report from the latest New York Housing and Vacancy survey will not be released until sometime this summer, some of the survey’s key findings have already been released. Unfortunately for residents of New York City, the initial data does not look very promising in terms of affordability. On the other hand, there are a few bright spots of hope that give some cause for minor celebration.

Rising Apartment Numbers

One of the positive findings of the survey is that New York City has more apartments available than ever before. In all, the city has close to 3.5 million apartments in its housing stock. More than 60 percent of those units are rentals, while approximately 30 percent are owner units. This is good news for those who are looking for a place to live in NYC as the number of housing options continues to rise. At the same time, the growth still is not keeping pace with the overall demand for housing.

Rent Vs. Income Ratio

Another positive finding from the survey is that the median income in NYC has increased at a faster rate than the rate of rent increase. While rent has increased by 6 percent, the median income in the city increased by 11 percent to $57,500. Rents for regulated units increased by a smaller percent of just 2.6 percent thanks to back-to-back rent freezes. This seems to indicate that rental housing is more affordable for the typical NYC residents.

Lack of Rent Stabilization

While some indicators seem to point toward more affordable housing in NYC, others show that things may not be as bright as they seem on the surface. For instance, only 966,000 of the city’s rental units are now rent-stabilized. In addition, the vacancy rate for those units is just over 2 percent, a figure that is much lower than the 3.6 percent vacancy rate for the city as a whole. Unfortunately, these figures could become even worse in the near future as landlords use the positive figures from the report to push for the loosening of rent regulations, such as eliminating rent stabilization.

A Financial Gap

Overall, the report has found that there are more than 79,000 vacant rental units in the city. Nearly half of these units, however, are asking for more than $2,000 per month. Among these rental units, the vacancy rate is 7.4 percent. On the other hand, the vacancy rate for units asking for between $1,000 and $1,499 per month is just 2.52 percent. With the common landlord stipulation being that a renter must have an annual income of 40 times the monthly rent, a household would have to make at least $80,000 per year in order to qualify for the majority of the apartments that are available in the city.

For these reasons and more, a large number of New Yorkers remain rent burdened, which is defined as paying more than a third of your annual income toward housing costs. In fact, one-third of residents actually pay 50 percent or more toward rent and utilities, indicating that there is more work left to be done in terms of making housing more affordable in NYC.