Monday, June 17, 2013

Comptroller: The Continued Decline in Affordable Housing

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has released a timely report decrying "the continued decline of affordable housing in New York City." The study details the bind facing low income New Yorkers, who must put more than half their income towards rent as a condition of staying in the city. The Comptroller writes, 
The housing burden is heaviest for low-income households. One-fifth of New York City’s households had incomes of $15,000 or less in 2011. Nearly 80 percent of these households devoted more than half of their incomes to rent, a higher share than any other income group. Even after government subsidies are factored in, more than half (56 percent) of these households had a severe housing burden, a much higher share than any other income group (see Figure 4). For households with incomes of $15,000 to $30,000, nearly 40 percent devoted more than half of their incomes to rent in 2011. 
The report also details the wide-spread deregulation of the rent stabilized housing stock. Last year, the city lost nearly 9,500 rent stabilized apartments. This report puts that figure into historical context, showing that "the share of rental units subject to some form of rent regulation fell from 74 percent in 1991 to 61 percent in 2011." While other factors are also to blame, persistent compound Rent Guidelines Board increases are certainly a major factor in this rampant deregulation.

This is the context in which the RGB makes its decision: New Yorkers are facing historically high rent burdens, and the number of rent stabilized apartments left in the city is fading fast. 

The Rent Guidelines Board has just one job: to decide the rent adjustment for renewal leases on regulated apartments in a given year. Put that way, their mission seems narrow and perhaps obscure. But, as this timely report shows, their actions have significant impacts on millions of tenants trying to keep up with the rent in a challenging housing market.

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