In a stark revelation amid the persistent housing crisis, New York City faces record-low rental vacancy rates since the 1960s, according to a recent survey. The findings indicate a substantial decline in available rental apartments, with a particular scarcity of affordable units.
The city’s net rental vacancy rate plummeted to a mere 1.4%, marking the lowest point since 1968. Initial data from the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey, conducted by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the U.S. Census Bureau, revealed that between January and June of 2023, only around 33,200 units were available out of a total stock of 2.35 million occupied and accessible rentals.
This alarming drop comes on the heels of the 2021 recorded vacancy rate of 4.54%, a period coinciding with the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Adams responded to the concerning statistics, stating,
“The data is clear: the demand to live in our city is far outpacing our ability to build housing. New Yorkers need our help, and they need it now.”
He emphasized the urgent need for collaboration across all levels of government to address the housing crisis and ensure the city remains a viable home for working-class residents.
The housing crisis has intensified in recent years as city rents soared to unprecedented levels, leaving half of New Yorkers struggling to afford essential living expenses. The survey highlighted the strain on middle- and working-class renters, with nearly all low-income individuals spending more than 30% of their income on rent, classifying them as “rent-burdened.”
Affordable housing options also became increasingly elusive, with just 0.4% of units on the market in 2023 priced below $1,100, and less than 1% below $2,400.
While the survey did note a net gain of 60,000 units between 2021 and 2023, representing a 2% increase, this growth failed to keep pace with the overwhelming demand.
Mayor Adams is actively advocating for his “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity” proposal, which includes zoning changes permitting the construction of up to 100,000 new apartments. Additionally, he has urged lawmakers in Albany to implement measures such as the renewal of a construction tax break.
Governor Hochul underscored the urgency of the situation, stating,
“There’s only one solution to our housing shortage: build more supply.” She emphasized the need to act swiftly, citing the latest survey as a stark reminder that the crisis can only be mitigated by increasing the housing supply.