Jobs outpaced housing, pushing prices up: report

Citizens Budget Commission lists ways to increase affordability

New York /
Aug.August 26, 2020 07:30 AM
The disparity between housing and job growth is caused in part by low-density zoning throughout the city (iStock)

A report found the disparity between housing and job growth is caused in part by low-density zoning (iStock)

New York City built just 19 housing units for every 100 new jobs from 2010 to 2018, a new report shows.

The disparity between housing and job growth is caused in part by low-density zoning throughout the city, a paucity of sites which do not require political approval for projects and a property tax system that penalizes multifamily properties, according to the report.

The analysis, by the Citizens Budget Commission, also pointed to restrictions on density, high construction costs and a lack of state policies to encourage dense development in the suburbs.

The report also found that Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties produced substantially less dense residential housing than Connecticut and northern New Jersey. Meanwhile, residents of Westchester and Long Island are the most likely to be rent-burdened in New York.

The finding that the city’s housing supply has not kept pace with job growth is not new. The Department of City Planning released a similar study last year; it concluded that the disconnect exacerbated displacement and homelessness. But opponents of development often argue that housing development does the opposite — pricing people out and triggering gentrification — causing Deputy Mayor Vicki Been to lament, “We have lost the narrative.”

The Citizens Budget Commission is hoping that lawmakers will take advantage of the pandemic to make it easier to develop affordable housing where it is most needed.

To ameliorate New York’s housing crisis, the advocacy group, which is governed by a mix of civic and business leaders, suggested that state lawmakers use “rarely executed” power to combat restrictive zoning in the suburbs as New Jersey, California and Oregon have done.

Exclusionary zoning in the suburbs got a boost last month when President Donald Trump scrapped a rule meant to encourage suburbs to allow affordable development.

The Citizens Budget Commission also suggested New York legislators take a second look at some state laws, including the rent law of 2019. That law may dissuade developers from using a tax benefit that encourages new housing by locking those units into rent regulation.

The report further emphasized the need to reform the city’s property tax system, which blesses wealthier condos and single-family homes with proportionately lower tax rates than multifamily properties. A lawsuit by real estate interests to have the system declared unconstitutional was dismissed by an appeals court this year.

The de Blasio administration opposes that lawsuit but claims it will fix the system by the end of next year. It has formed a commission which in January released recommendations that failed to impress the real estate industry.


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