The tragic spike in unemployment has prompted a state moratorium on housing evictions and even calls from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others for rent “cancellation.”
But the activist left might be in for quite the surprise. New York’s response to COVID-19 and the fallout from the lockdowns could lead to a very different housing policy change: a rollback of the state’s draconian rent-regulation laws.
It would be salutary, too: Ending the laws’ stranglehold on the city’s housing could be key to helping revive the post-pandemic Gotham.
Rent-stabilization laws have always been predicated on a housing “emergency,” defined as when the city’s vacancy rate drops below 5 percent. We don’t yet know what effect the crisis will have on the citywide rate, but there is good reason to wonder whether it has increased, as New Yorkers reportedly have begun a significant exodus from the Big Apple.
Three recent studies, including one coauthored by Manhattan Institute Adjunct Fellow Arpit Gupta of New York University, reach similar conclusions: Between 4 and 5-plus percent of the city’s population has headed for the exits. That’s more than 400,000 people. They have predominantly come from the city’s most affluent neighborhoods in Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn, but even in lower-income areas, 1 to 2 percent have headed elsewhere.
Photo by James Andrews/iStock