Looking for a cheap apartment in New York City? Good luck.
The city has lost more than one million apartments renting for $900 or less since 2005, according to a new report from Controller Scott Stringer — something he said shows the magnitude of the city’s housing crisis.
“One million low-rent units gone, disappeared, never existed,” Stringer said Tuesday at a press conference at his Manhattan offices.
And while finding an apartment for $900-a-month in New York City might sound about as likely as stumbling upon a unicorn on the banks of the Gowanus Canal, Stringer noted the statistics show they were pretty easy to find not all that long ago.
In 2005, 74% of all rental apartments in the city were going for $900 or less, the report found. Now, just 20% of the city’s rental stock goes for that price.
Over the same time period, the number of apartments going for $2,700 a month or more increased four-fold — replacing many of those cheaper units. Back in 2005, just 2.7% of the city’s apartments were that expensive — now 13.9% are, Stringer’s report found.
Those figures include both market-rate housing that’s simply gotten more expensive since 2005 and apartments that were once rent-regulated but no longer are — thanks in part to policies like high-rent vacancy deregulation, which allows apartments to lose their rent stabilization status when they’d reached certain rent levels and are then vacated by a tenant.
The city has had a net loss of 88,518 units of rent-stabilized units between 2005 and 2017, Stringer said.
Stringer was joined by housing advocates and state pols in calling for a total overhaul to the state’s rent laws — something Republicans have staunchly opposed in the State Senate, but which he hinted could be possible as Democrats, fresh off the defeat of breakaway Independent Democratic Conference members, hope to take the Senate in November.
“Today we are sounding an alarm and together with this coalition we are taking the fight for housing justice all the way up to Albany,” Stringer said. “Because of the changing winds, this is a fight we can win.”
The figures reinforced what tenant leaders said has been obvious for a long time.
“It’s not as if we didn’t know,” said Delsenia Glover, executive director of tenants’ rights group Tenants and Neighbors. “We have been clanging the bell for a very long time.”
Vaughn Armour, a member of New York Communities for Change, said his landlord sought to flip his rent-stabilized home after his longtime partner died — offering, instead of his condolences, $5,000 to his family if he’d vacate the unit.
“All these greedy landlords want to do is get longtime residents out of their apartments where they can raise the rent,” Armour said.