NYC rental vacancy rate drops to 1.4%, lowest in 50+ years

February 9, 2024

Photo by Goh Rhy Yan on Unsplash

New York City’s net rental vacancy rate has dropped to a mere 1.4 percent, the lowest rate on record. According to a survey released by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development on Thursday, the city had a little over 33,000 vacant rental apartments available between January and mid-June of 2023 citywide, out of a total stock of 2,357,000 units. Despite adding 60,000 units since 2021, the demand for housing in all five boroughs is outpacing the construction of new homes.

The survey also revealed a major drop in the vacancy rate from the last time the survey was conducted in 2021 when it was 4.54 percent. While the net housing stock grew by two percent in those two years, supply failed to meet the demands of the 275,000 new households in New York City.

Housing experts say that a healthy vacancy rate is typically between five and eight percent. Officials consider a vacancy rate of less than 5 percent a “housing emergency,” according to the New York Times.

The city survey also found housing is growing increasingly more expensive for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers, with nearly all low-income residents spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Additionally, 86 percent of households who earned less than $25,000 without rental assistance spent more than half of their income on rent.

Even for high-cost homes with rents at $2,400 and above, the vacancy rate was 3.39 percent. For homes with rents under $2,400, the total vacancy rate is under one percent, with the largest decline in available units recorded for homes with rents between $1,650 and $2,400.

Rental vacancies were extremely limited at the lowest rent levels, according to the survey. Just 0.39 percent of apartments renting for under $1,100/month were vacant. For units renting between $1,100/month and $1,649/month, the vacancy rate was 0.91 percent.

“The historic low vacancy rate from the 2023 Housing Vacancy Survey illustrates the pressures New Yorkers are facing in the housing market, and underscores the dramatic need for more homes in New York City, especially for lower income New Yorkers,” Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer said.

“To meet this need and turn the tide on our long-standing housing crisis, we need action from colleagues across the City and State to support our housing agenda, and to advance proposals and projects that will allow us to build and preserve more housing in every neighborhood across the city.”

Established in 1965 to provide objective, data-based reporting on housing needs, the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey (NYCHVS) is conducted every three years in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey is the official source of the city’s vacancy rate and is used to determine the need for rent control and rent stabilization.

This year’s findings are based on data gathered from nearly 10,000 interviews conducted between January and mid-June 2023. HPD will release more data from the NYCHVS in the coming months as the City Council analyzes its findings and determines if the city is still in a housing emergency and if there is a continued need for rent stabilization laws.

While the state failed to act on several housing proposals put forth by Gov. Kathy Hochul last year, Adams has introduced several plans to boost housing development and preservation, including updating the city’s zoning rules under his “City of Yes” proposal. Changing restrictive zoning could mean allowing accessory dwelling units, more office-to-residential conversions, homes above businesses and on campuses, and developments on city-owned land.

In January, Adams announced new plan called “24 in 24.” The initiative calls for two dozen affordable housing projects on public land, which could create and preserve over 12,000 affordable apartments.

“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,” Mayor Eric Adams said. “While our administration continues to create a record number of affordable homes and helps more New Yorkers move into these homes than the city ever has before, we need more tools to house our neighbors, protect tenants, and deliver the affordability New Yorkers deserve.”

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  1. J

    that’s very outrageous, a dam shame, now we know this, what are our politicians going to do to fix this mess, well so far everyone just seem to point fingers, debating each other, while people desperately need truly affordable housing