On May 17, 2022, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) released some initial results of the 2021 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey. The survey is the official source of the city’s net rental vacancy rate, which is used to determine the continued need for rent stabilization. From its start in 1965, the survey is the longest running housing survey in the United States.
According to the initial results, the citywide net rental vacancy rate is at 4.54 percent. Among the lowest-cost units (below $1,500), the vacancy rate was less than one percent, which is the lowest it has been in 30 years.
The survey also highlighted the struggles many New Yorkers face in paying rent. The reported overall median asking rent is $2,750, but the overall median household income of New Yorkers would need to double to afford $2,750 a month. The rent burden has continued to remain high; half of households spent more than 30 percent of their income on rent, and one-third spent over half of their income on rent. Thirteen percent of households reported a missed rent payment last year.
The survey covered a variety of topics, including housing costs, quality and affordability; the size and composition of the housing inventory; vacancy status; demographics, income, and education; household composition; deficiencies in housing maintenance; building characteristics and other features. In addition to establishing the ongoing need for rent stabilization, the survey can inform policy decisions as both the City and country continue to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
HPD partners with the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct the survey approximately every three years. This survey experienced delays due to the pandemic. Earlier this year, the City Council passed legislation to extend the deadline of the survey to July 1st to allow for more time to finish the survey and process the data and findings. The survey was conducted from February to July 2021, and the data will continue to be released by HPD as it is further processed by the U.S. Census Bureau.
To read the initial findings, click here.
Mayor Eric Adams stated, “The New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey is a critical tool for our understanding of the city’s housing market. New Yorkers can be confident that, despite all of the challenges, this year’s survey was conducted professionally and methodically — thanks in part to Intro 70, which I signed in March. The findings are clear: Our city’s affordable housing crisis is as dire as ever, and that’s why I am working every day to create and preserve the high-quality, affordable housing hard-working New Yorkers need and deserve.”
HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. stated, “The New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey paints a detailed portrait of what it’s like to live in New York City. Going forward, the survey data will inform our policymaking, our understanding of how New Yorkers experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, and help our leaders shape this city into a more fair and equitable home for all New Yorkers. While the exact brushstrokes will be analyzed by experts in the weeks and months to come, we are excited to release the initial findings to the public to better inform how we address the city’s housing needs in the years ahead.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)