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NYC gained more than 4,000 rent-stabilized apartments in 2017

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But the housing market is still “very tight,” with a low vacancy rate, according to the Rent Guidelines Board

New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board, which determines increases to the nearly 1 million rent-stabilized apartments in the city, released its annual housing supply report in the lead-up to its next vote on rent hikes.

The TL;DR version: More housing units were created in 2017 than in the previous year—there was an 11 percent increase in the number of apartments created—but the vacancy rate is still very low, and 11.5 percent of housing is considered “overcrowded,” meaning there’s more than one person per room. The city’s housing market, per the report, remains “very tight.”

In fact, the vacancy rate of 3.63 percent means that fewer than 80,000 of the city’s 2.2 million rental units are available to New Yorkers.

But according to Politico, there’s one bright spot: “The city added 11,044 new rent-stabilized apartments and lost 6,657 in 2017 for a net gain of 4,387 — the first time it has gained more than it lost in a given year,” mostly thanks to tax break programs like 421-a. (The median rent for these units is still hovering around $2,685/month—not exactly affordable for the average New Yorker.)

The report drills down into the various housing types that have been created or preserved in the period between 2016 and 2017, including units that were created under tax abatement programs (such as 421-a), condos and co-ops, and apartments that qualify as affordable housing. Some quick stats:

  • Permits for new apartments increased 36 percent from 2016, to 22,131 units; the largest number was in Brooklyn, with 6,130, but Queens had the largest proportion, rising 80 percent over 2016.
  • Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens also saw the largest numbers of completed apartments in 2017, with 6,130; 5,401; and 5,104 units, respectively.
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York program “spurred a total of 24,293 housing starts” in 2017, with 32 percent of those being newly created apartments.

The RGB is currently weighing increases on rent-stabilized apartments in the city; after two years of rent freezes in 2015 and 2016, the board voted in 2017 to hike rents by up to two percent, depending on the lease term. This year, landlords are seeking an increase of as much as seven percent, which they say is necessary to offset a rise in operating costs over the past year.

Tenant advocates, however, argue that the RGB should not implement increases this year, citing the extremely low vacancy rate for stabilized apartments—a fact that the new housing supply report backs up—along with the city’s persistent affordable housing crisis. A complete rollback, however, is unlikely; a preliminary vote in April indicated that the board would approve increases of up to 3.75 percent.

The full vote happens on June 26 at 7 p.m., with several public hearings—at which tenants and landlords can try to sway the board’s vote—scheduled before then.