Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

June 20, 2014

Rent Regulation and Housing Affordability

By David Reiss

NYU’s Furman Center issued a fact brief, Profile of Rent-Stabilized Units and Tenants in New York City, that provides context for the deliberations of the Rent Guidelines Board as it considers a rent freeze for NYC apartments subject to rent stabilization.

Rent regulated (rent stabilized and rent controlled) apartments clearly serve households that have lower incomes than households in market rate apartments. Median household income (fifty percent are below and fifty percent are above this number) is $37,600 for rent regulated and $52,260 for market rate households.Thus, market rate households have median incomes that are nearly 40% higher than rent regulated ones.

The median rent is $1,155 for rent regulated and $1,510 for market rate households.Thus, median rents are about 30% higher for market rate tenants.

Despite these differences, the number of households that are rent burdened (where rent is greater than 30% of income) is similar for the two groups: 58% for rent regulated and about 56% for market rate households. (4, Table D)

The Furman Center brief provides a useful context in which to consider NYC’s rental housing stock as well as the households that live in it. Given the nature of NYC households, however, I would have wished for a more finely detailed presentation of household incomes and rents.

NYC’s distribution of income is skewed toward the extremes — more low-income and high-income households and therefore fewer middle-income ones than the rest of the nation. Given this, it would have been helpful to have seen the range and distribution of incomes and rents, perhaps by deciles. The Furman Center brief indicates that updated data will be available next year, so that may provide an opportunity to give a more granular sense of dynamics of the NYC rental market.

Mayor de Blasio’s housing plan outlines his commitment to preserving affordable housing. One element of that commitment is to preserve rent regulated housing. Understanding that market sector and the households it serves is essential to meeting that commitment.

| Permalink