Testimony Before the New York City Council Housing and Buildings Committee Regarding Extending the Rent Stabilization Laws and New York City’s Housing Emergency

Testimony Before the New York City Council Housing and Buildings Committee Regarding Extending the Rent Stabilization Laws and New York City’s Housing Emergency

June 7, 2022

Thank you to Committee Chair Sanchez and members of the Housing and Buildings Committee for the opportunity to testify on New York City’s ongoing housing emergency and the need to maintain rent stabilization.


About the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) 

ANHD is one of the City’s lead policy, advocacy, technical assistance, and capacity-building organizations. We maintain a membership of 80+ neighborhood-based and city-wide nonprofit organizations that have affordable housing and/or equitable economic development as a central component of their mission. We bridge the power and impact of our member groups to build community power and ensure the right to affordable housing and thriving, equitable neighborhoods for all New Yorkers. We value justice, equity and opportunity, and we believe in the importance of movement building that centers marginalized communities in our work. We believe housing justice is economic justice is racial justice. 

The Housing and Vacancy Survey Shows the Severity of Our Affordability Crisis

HPD’s 2021 Housing and Vacancy Survey findings clearly show that New York City is – without question – in the midst of a severe housing emergency, which has only worsened in recent years. 

There may be suggestions that an increase of New York City’s overall vacancy rate from 3.63% in 2017 to 4.54% in 2021 shows our affordability crisis is lessening. However, focusing on this singular metric – the one that, problematically, is used to legally gauge the state of our housing emergency – is vastly misleading. There has been an astounding decrease in vacancy for New York City’s lowest rent – and most affordable – apartments. At the same time, there has been a staggering jump in vacancy for the City’s highest-rent apartments.


Vacancy rate by monthly rent




Less than $800



Less than $900


$800 - $999



$900 - $1,499


$1,000 - $1,499



$1,500 - $2,299


$1,500 - $1,999



$2,300 or more


$2,000 - $2,499



$2,500 or more




In 2017, the vacancy rate for apartments renting for less than $1,500 per month ranged from 1.15% - 2.52%. In 2021, it was 0.86% - 0.93%. This means that currently, fewer than one in one hundred apartments in New York City with rents below $1,500 are available. As a point of comparison, a typical renter household makes $50,000 and is able to afford approximately $1,250 per month in rent. 

The gap between income and apartment availability becomes even more pronounced for people of color: in general, Black, indigenous, and Latinx-led households make around 40% less than white households in New York City.

At the same time, the vacancy rate of the highest rent apartments in the survey – defined as $2,500 or more in 2017 and $2,300 or more in 2021– increased from 8.74% to 12.64%, a jump of almost 50%. If you can afford to pay over $2,300/month for an apartment, about one in eight apartments are available. 

Figure 6 of the 2021 HVS findings shows us what we need to know about our City’s housing supply: there is an inverse relationship between the supply of high- and low-cost units over time. New York City’s overall increase in household vacancy is entirely driven by surplus luxury units at the top of the market – not a true increase in affordability.


Additionally, in their analysis HPD compared the incomes needed to afford available vacant units to actual household incomes of renters. The comparison shows a dramatic mismatch.


This is not a picture of a city whose housing emergency is anywhere close to over. The 2021 HVS raises serious new concerns about the direction of our City’s housing affordability and stability. 

Rent stabilization has been and continues to be a necessity to maintain NYC housing affordability. The median monthly contract rent in rent stabilized units is $1,400. Because this estimate includes new high-rent stabilized units such as those built with 421-a exemptions, the median rent of stabilized units in pre-1974 buildings is likely much lower. In comparison, the median rent of unregulated housing is $1,825, 30% more. The median rent of stabilized units is much more affordable to the typical renter household that makes $50,000 – though there is still a gap. 

We thank you for holding this hearing and urge you to do everything you can as the Council to acknowledge and address the true affordability crisis that has only worsened in recent years. We urge you to pass the considered local law to extend the rent stabilization laws and resolution to determine that a public housing emergency still exists. 

Thank you for the opportunity to testify. If you have any questions or for more information, please contact Lucy Block at lucy.b@anhd.org.



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