NEW YORK – This afternoon, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) delivered the initial findings of the latest New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey (NYCHVS) to the New York City Council. Conducted roughly every three years since 1965 in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, the NYCHVS is the longest-running housing survey in the country and the official source of the city’s net rental vacancy rate, used to determine the continued need for rent control and rent stabilization. By adding new questions over time since the original survey launched, the NYCHVS provides unique, comprehensive data, creating a snapshot in time of NYC’s overall housing stock, its people, and their lives.
As the city grapples with a decades-long housing crisis, the latest NYCHVS, conducted in the field from January through mid-June 2023, reveals a stark reality for New Yorkers. While the city has broken records in financing new affordable housing and connecting New Yorkers with homes over the past two years, without new tools and land-use changes, New York City’s supply of available housing simply cannot keep up with the demand to live here.
Strikingly, New York City’s vacancy rate has dropped to a mere 1.4 percent – the lowest this measurement has been since the 1968 NYCHVS. Without significant public investments in new construction and housing preservation, the City’s wealth gap and racial disparities will grow while middle- and low- income New Yorkers will increasingly struggle financially.
“The data is clear: the demand to live in our city is far outpacing our ability to build housing. New Yorkers need our help, and they need it now,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “While our administration continues to create a record number of affordable homes and helps more New Yorkers move into these homes than the city ever has before, we need more tools to house our neighbors, protect tenants, and deliver the affordability New Yorkers deserve. I am calling on all levels of government to help us meet this moment and ensure New York City remains a viable home for working class New Yorkers.”
“The historic low vacancy rate from the 2023 Housing Vacancy Survey illustrates the pressures New Yorkers are facing in the housing market, and underscores the dramatic need for more homes in New York City, especially for lower income New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “To meet this need and turn the tide on our long-standing housing crisis, we need action from colleagues across the City and State to support our housing agenda, and to advance proposals and projects that will allow us to build and preserve more housing in every neighborhood across the city.”
“This latest survey result shines a spotlight on what we know as New Yorkers, more people want to live and work in the greatest city in the world but are struggling to find housing that makes that possible. In spite of our record-breaking year for housing production, the crisis continues to deepen. This clearly means we need to do more at all levels of government and in partnership with the private sector to address this growing crisis,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “Together we must act quickly and decisively to deliver more affordable homes to get us out of this crisis and keep New York City competitive and livable.”
“The findings of the 2023 Housing Vacancy Survey further highlight how dire New York City’s affordable housing crisis has become, especially for our most vulnerable individuals and families,” said New York City Housing Development Corporation President Eric Enderlin. “With a record-low vacancy rate and a growing number of New Yorkers facing the financial strain of rising rents, it’s critical that our city receives the resources needed from every level of government to effectively address our affordable housing shortage.”
The net rental vacancy rate was extremely limited at the lowest rent levels in 2023, while among higher-cost units there was a significant drop in the net rental vacancy rate between 2021 and 2023. (Credit: NYCHVS)
2023 NYCHVS Vacancy Rate
In a mere two years, the vacancy rate nosedived from 4.54%, illuminating a profound scarcity of available homes for rent. The core issue lies in the supply-demand imbalance. While the net housing stock grew by about 60,000 units or 2% -- a relatively high rate compared to recent decades -- supply still failed to keep up with the demands of the City's new 275,000 households.
Even in high-cost homes, the availability was extremely limited, with a mere 3.39% vacancy rate. The overall number of units available for rent was exceptionally low, hovering around 33,000 citywide. Among units renting for under $2,400, the net rental vacancy rate is below 1%, with the most significant decline observed in units with rents ranging between $1,650 (the median rent in 2023) and $2,400.
While the housing supply has shown growth, this expansion is far from sufficient to match the number of households. These findings underscore the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address the housing crisis in New York City.
New Yorkers are Struggling to Pay Their Rent
New York City is becoming more expensive, and homes are increasingly out of reach for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. As the economic landscape evolves following the pandemic, residents are grappling with heightened financial strains, feeling the impact of economic pressures more acutely than ever. With housing costs skyrocketing and a surge in living expenses, not to mention inflation, many New Yorkers are experiencing increased difficulty making ends meet.
The city's residents are facing unprecedented financial challenges, reflected in high rent burdens, missed payments, and an alarming increase in the number of households struggling with economic insecurities.
Among those with household incomes of less than $25,000 who did not live in public housing or report having a voucher, a full 86 percent were severely rent burdened (Credit: NYCHVS)
Some key findings from the 2023 NYCHVS include:
- Nearly all low-income New Yorkers are rent-burdened, allocating more than 30% of their income towards rent. Among households who earned less than $50,000 without rental assistance, 86% were rent burdened. Likewise, 86% of households who earned less than $25,000 without rental assistance were severely rent burdened, spending more than half of their income on rent. As a consequence, more New Yorkers are grappling with financial strain, resulting in an alarming increase in missed rent payments and arrears compared to 2021.
- There is less availability across more rent levels, making it increasingly difficult for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers to secure housing. In 2021, the vacancy rate was below 1% for home renting for less than $1,500. In the latest survey, the vacancy rate for apartments renting for less than $2,400 was below 1%, and for those seeking units under $1,100, the vacancy rate was a mere 0.39%.
- There is extremely low availability at the lower end of the market, if you need an apartment for under $1,100, the vacancy rate is only .39%.
Housing Supply is Increasing, But Not Meeting Demand
We saw a significant across-the-board decrease in the number of unoccupied units citywide. The number of homes that are vacant but not available for rent decreased substantially – dropping 35% in the last 2 years, as more vacant homes were rented.
Despite a small increase in housing and more homes getting back onto the market, the supply of homes available for rent can’t keep up with the demand. Our biggest focus, and the causes of the most significant issues in our housing market, are the lack of available housing and, in particular, the lack of low-cost housing.
The Solution is More Homes – Let’s be a City of Yes
In response to this housing crisis, the Adams administration has strongly advocated for a range of new tools and proposals to build significantly more affordable housing across the city.
“When New Yorkers wonder why their rent is so damn high, or why they can’t get repairs in their apartment, they should look to this historically low vacancy rate that is exacerbating the imbalance of power between landlords and tenants. That’s why we’ve proposed City of Yes for Housing Opportunity, the most pro-housing initiative in the history of New York City zoning,” said Dan Garodnick, Director of the Department of City Planning and Chair of the City Planning Commission. “By building a little more housing in every neighborhood, we can make a big difference in creating the housing New Yorkers need, alongside critical investments in affordable housing and action in Albany and Washington to meet this crisis head on.”
Key proposals include:
- Building More Affordable Homes: Collaboration with Albany is essential to renew a new affordable housing tax incentive, facilitate office conversions for affordable homes to significantly increase the construction of affordable homes and remove the FAR cap to give the City the flexibility it needs to create more housing where appropriate.
- Creating a City of Yes: The 'City of Yes for Housing Opportunity' set of zoning reforms stands as a critical step, entirely within the City’s control, toward creating a healthier vacancy rate. By taking a citywide approach to building a little more housing in every neighborhood, the proposal addresses the root causes of the crisis.
- Increasing Federal Resources: First, the Senate must follow the House’s lead and immediately pass The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act, which includes provisions that could help finance an additional 4,400 affordable homes in New York City over the next two years. Then, Congress must increase funding for the federal affordable housing programs.
This crisis highlights the imperative to act swiftly and decisively, focusing on the urgent need to construct more housing, especially affordable housing. The 'City of Yes for Housing Opportunity' initiative, which will be referred for public review this spring and is expected to be voted on by the City Council before the end of the year, presents a bold and comprehensive approach to building a more inclusive and accessible future for all New Yorkers.
NYC Housing & Vacancy Survey Background
The NYCHVS was established to provide data-based, objective reporting on the supply, condition, and continued need for housing, so that the City can make educated policy decision.
The NYCHVS creates a comprehensive profile of the city’s housing stock, neighborhoods, population, and vacancy rate providing a snapshot of New Yorkers’ experience at the time in which it is conducted. Insights gleaned from the survey inform policy both locally and nationally and help guide efforts to build a more equitable city.
The findings announced today are from the 2023 NYCHVS, conducted in January through mid-June 2023 and are based on data from almost 10,000 interviews. It is a citywide, representative survey of New York City’s housing stock and population that is fielded about every three years by the US Census Bureau on behalf of the City of New York.
The survey serves as an invaluable resource for understanding the city's evolution. The survey covers housing types, demographic changes, and various aspects of residents' lives, offering a holistic view of New York City's development over the past six decades.
The NYCHVS is the longest running survey in the US and is designed to measure the city’s net rental vacancy rate and track how our city’s housing and population change over time, particularly housing affordability and quality. It is the only source of information on the tenants living in rent stabilized and rent controlled housing and is designed to compare among various housing types. But it collects data far beyond housing alone, capturing information on demographic change, migration, health, family formation, and more.
The NYCHVS is based on a statistical sample of residential units that are selected to represent every type of housing and every neighborhood. The answers to the survey are weighted to represent the entire NYC housing stock and resident population.
The NYCHVS is primarily an in-person interview and includes observations from trained Field Representatives from the US Census Bureau as well as interviews with residents (if occupied) or a knowledgeable respondent such as an owner or managing agent (if not occupied). The interview collects information about the people who live there (e.g., income and employment, public assistance, and demographics) as well as the unit, building, and neighborhood (e.g., costs and quality of the housing unit, perceived safety). These data are combined with data from a variety of other sources, such as rent registration data and information from NYC Finance, to provide the most comprehensive and accurate information possible.
HPD will release more data from the 2023 NYCHVS in the weeks and months to come as the New York City Council reviews its findings to determine if New York City remains in a housing emergency, and if there is a continued need for the city’s rent stabilization laws.