The rent in New York City is too damn high—with a median rent above $3,000/month, this is an undeniable fact—but the biggest increases have largely been concentrated in areas that have historically been considered lower-income, according to a new StreetEasy report.
The real estate website mined its data from 2010 to 2018, looking at more than one million listings, and found that New York City rents have increased by 31 percent in those eight years. But the biggest jumps were found in neighborhoods that are considered gentrifying: Ditmas Park, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, and Bedford-Stuyvesant all experienced rent increases of more than 40 percent, while other areas with increases of more than 35 percent include Inwood, Washington Heights, and Crown Heights.
On the flip side, neighborhoods that experienced comparatively small rent increases—that is, of 22 percent or less—include Long Island City, Dumbo, Midtown, and, surprisingly, Ridgewood. (StreetEasy says that last one is an outlier, thanks to a “very sharp run-up in rents at the beginning of the decade that was seemingly speculative on the part of ambitious developers but has since abated significantly.”) Most are areas that have long been considered more expensive, or as having a higher barrier to entry for renters.
While this data isn’t entirely surprising, some of the stats are. For example, rent growth was “comparable and modest” immediately after the 2008 recession; but in just a few years, gentrifying neighborhoods began to overtake the high-end ones in growth. By 2014, according to StreetEasy, “lower-income, fastest growing neighborhoods had seen rents rise by a cumulative 11 percentage points more than the predominantly high-income neighborhoods with the slowest rent growth.”
And thus, lower-income New Yorkers are the ones who experience the biggest hits in terms of rent hikes. “In the 52 neighborhoods with a household income above the city’s 2010 median of $50,285, rents grew by an average of 26.9 percent between 2010 and 2018. In the 31 neighborhoods with incomes below the city median, rents grew by 33.1 percent over the same period,” per the report.
The New York Times looked at the human impact of this, by interviewing residents of neighborhoods like Crown Heights and Flatbush who’ve experienced these issues firsthand. A retired tenant of a building in Flatbush, who’s lived in his apartment for 40 years, told the paper that his landlord is now trying to push the building’s longtime residents out in order to raise rents through the use of “vacancy bonuses.” According to StreetEasy’s report, rents in Flatbush have risen 38 percent since 2010.
There is no easy solution to the rent crisis—as Comptroller Scott Stringer told the Times, a huge problem is that living expenses, including rent, are growing faster than wages—but one potential way to alleviate some of the burden is to build more housing. As the StreetEasy report notes, more dense areas—Long Island City, for example—saw slower rent growth, while areas with fewer apartments and more low-rise housing (Ditmas Park, for example) experienced faster growth. “[O]ur analysis suggests that preservation has come at the cost of fixing supply in areas while demand continues to grow, thus pushing rents higher,” the report reads.
You can read the report in full here.