Enterprise has released a report, 2015 New York City Housing Security Profile and Affordability Housing Gap Analysis. Its conclusions are not shocking, but they are sobering:
- Of 2 million renter households in New York City, nearly 640,000 are low-income and severely cost-burdened.
- There is not a single neighborhood in NYC that provides enough affordable housing to match the number of very low-income households in that community.
- Both the regulated and unregulated rental housing markets of NYC are not meeting the affordable housing needs of low-income renters.
- Even though the market added rent stabilized units between 2011 and 2014, the stock affordable to lower income families declined.
- Competition exacerbates the gap between the number affordable units and the number of low-income renters, forcing many to pay beyond their means. (33)
As with many such studies, it offers a cogent analysis of the problem but offers very little by way of possible solutions. It hints at one such solution when it notes that
By any measure, the demand for affordable housing in New York City outstrips supply – even on the rent regulated market. Low-income households are squeezed even further by competition from higher income households for the cheapest units. The acute shortage forces the majority of lower income households in housing that costs beyond their means. (27)
Increasing the supply of housing will, if everything else is equal, reduce the cost of housing. The de Blasio Administration is certainly on board with an approach to increase density in NYC but many other elected officials are not — or at least resist it when it comes to their own backyards. While more housing is not a sufficient solution to the affordability problem in NYC, it is certainly a necessary component of a solution.
The report also does not deal with the big elephant in the affordable housing policy room — the social demographics of NYC are undergoing a secular shift as the city gets hotter and hotter for global elites. It is unclear how much government can affect that trend, particularly at the local level.