This study measures New York Cityâ€™s housing gapâ€”the difference between the net number of dwelling units added to the housing supply in a given time period, and the number needed to accommodate population change. The study finds that:
- New York Cityâ€™s housing gap is largeâ€”about 140,000 units in 1999.
- The Cityâ€™s housing gap is even largerâ€”over 400,000 unitsâ€”if one takes into account the need to replace older housing stock. Failure to replace these decaying structures is a major reason New York City has an older housing stock than any other major American city.
- Compared to other cities, housing in New York is not only scarce, but of low quality and highly priced. Only two citiesâ€”Boston and San Franciscoâ€”have higher median rent levels than New York.
- Although housing production in New York City has trended upward since 1994, gains in the housing stock have been offset by a dramatic rise in the cityâ€™s population.
- New York City and State have instituted policies that severely distort the dynamics of housing supply and demand. Only 30 percent of the cityâ€™s rental units, for instance, are subject to market prices. These distortionsâ€”coupled with Rube-Goldbergian environmental and zoning regulationsâ€”have denied New York the kind of healthy housing market enjoyed by most other major cities.
- The addition of more price-controlled housingâ€”as proposed by most housing advocates, and by most candidates in the cityâ€™s recent electoral campaignâ€”will only exacerbate the market-distortions which underlie the current housing shortage.
- If New Yorkers are to enjoy a vibrant and high quality housing market, building regulations must be streamlined to accord with those of other cities, and the proportion of market-priced housing must be expeditiously increased.
- The current crisis should energize the new city administration to tackle reform with renewed vigor. In the end, however, true reform will require policymakers to mobilize the cityâ€™s greatest strength, which has fortunately been everywhere in evidence since September 11: the good judgment, and enlightened self-interest, of New Yorkers themselves.