New York has lost more than 400K affordable apartments since 2005: comptroller’s report

“No young person should have to move to Iowa or Idaho,” Scott Stringer says

City Comptroller Scott Stringer at a housing justice event
City Comptroller Scott Stringer at a housing justice event

UPDATED, Sept. 27, 2018, 12:07 p.m.: Nearly 500,000 affordable apartments have vanished from New York City since 2005, according to a new report from Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.

The study found that the city has lost 425,492 units that rented for $900 or less since 2005, while the number of apartments that rent for $2,700 or more increased by roughly 111,000. Apartments going for $1,200 or less made up 60 percent of all rentals in 2017, down from 78.4 percent in 2005, while apartments going for more than $2,700 increased from 3.9 to 9 percent of the total market.

“The average rent, adjusted for inflation, has risen 31 percent over the last decade,” Stringer said, “and incomes for working New Yorkers fell by nearly 6 percent — fell, not increased.”

Although the study looked at all different types of apartments — including market-rate units, where consistently rising rents have become almost inevitable — a large part of the decline still came from losing rent-stabilized units. The city lost 88,518 of them since 2005, which is more than the entire amount of new rental units it added over the same time period, the report says. All rent figures were adjusted for inflation.

The report also found that more rent-stabilized units were removed than added in the city every year except for 2017, when a large amount were stabilized after the 421a program was renewed.

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Stringer and multiple other elected officials who spoke at an event announcing the study’s findings on Tuesday used it as an opportunity to call on New York State to pass stronger rent protections. Several indicated that whether or not these rent protections actually become law would depend on if the Democratic Party takes control of the State Senate after the November elections — something many said they felt optimistic about.

“We have been up against a senate majority again and again and again that is funded by the landlord industry of this city,” said state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, who represents Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront, “and has very few tenants in many of their districts who are concerned about this and again and again has resisted the most basic changes that we need to ensure that our communities remain affordable.”

Stringer said that stronger rent laws are the only way to make sure New Yorkers can afford to stay in New York.

“Don’t tell me that I have to move to Iowa because it may be cheaper. No young person should have to move to Iowa or Idaho,” he said. “That’s not what New York kids do. That’s not where they want to be.”

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of affordable apartments lost. Two days after this article was published, the comptroller’s office admitted that mistakes were made in its calculation, and that the number of affordable units lost was 425,492, not 1 million. 

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