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Housing and Vacancy Survey Reveals Boom in Housing Units

Brooklyn Has Highest Number

BROOKLYN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Mathew Wambua on Friday released the initial results of the 2011 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey.

The 2011 survey provides a synopsis of the city’s housing market between February and May 2011.

The city’s total housing stock rose to more than 3.35 million units — the largest in the 46-year period since the first survey was conducted in 1965. Overall residential building conditions reached their best-ever levels since they were first measured 46 years ago.

The survey, conducted every three years, is required by state and city rent-regulation laws to determine New York City’s overall vacancy rate for rental housing. A rental vacancy rate below 5 percent triggers the declaration of a “housing emergency,” a condition which is necessary for the continuation of rent-regulation protections for New York City residents. Every survey since the first one in 1965 has found the rental vacancy rate to be below 5 percent.

Of the city’s total inventory of 3.35 million units, the Bronx had 510,000 (15 percent), Brooklyn had 997,000 (30 percent), Manhattan had 841,000 (25 percent), Queens had 828,000 (25 percent) and Staten Island had 175,000 (5 percent).

The survey showed that in 2011, residential building conditions were the best since the survey started covering them. For example, the proportion of renter households near buildings with broken or boarded-up windows on the same street was only 7.3 percent. Only about 0.2 percent of the city’s housing units were in dilapidated buildings, meaning buildings with serious structural problems.

Housing maintenance conditions were also extremely good. The proportion of renter-occupied units with five or more of the seven maintenance deficiencies that the 2011 survey measured was only 4.3 percent, one of the lowest levels ever recorded since these conditions were first measured in 1991.

Of the rental units in the city, 987,000, about 45 percent of the total, were rent-stabilized. About 2 percent of the city’s rental stock, or about 38,000 units, were rent-controlled apartments. Rent control was an earlier program that was replaced by rent stabilization in the 1970s — for a New York City apartment to still be governed under rent control, the same tenant or a member of the same family has to have lived there continuously since 1971.

As far as household income is concerned, the median annual income for renter households was found to be $38,500. The median annual income for homeowners was $75,000, almost double the amount for renters.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the Housing and Vacancy Survey at the request of the city every three years. Last year, it used a sample of about 19,000 housing units and conducted interviews between February and May. Hotels, motels, prisons, dormitories, hospitals, nursing homes and shelters are excluded from the survey.

February 10, 2012 - 5:53pm


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