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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room

Mayor's Office Press Release # 057-00


February 16, 2000

Press Contacts: Carol Abrams (212) 863-5176


Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Richard T. Roberts today released the initial results of the 1999 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey (HVS).The results show a citywide decrease of 17,000 vacant-for-rent units, lowering the 1999 rental vacancy rate to 3.19 percent, from 4.01 percent in 1996. The vacancy rate, which is significantly lower than the 5-percent threshold mandated by state law, justifies the continuation of rent control and rent stabilization.

Conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census for the City of New York between February and May of 1999, the survey also reports that the City's total inventory of residential units was over 3 million for the first time. The inventory increased by 44,000, from 2,995,000 in 1996 to 3,039,000 in 1999. The 1999 HVS also reports that housing and neighborhood physical conditions in the City improved over 1996. These conditions were the best since the HVS started covering comparable conditions in the 1970s. The 1999 dilapidation rate was just 1.0 percent, the lowest ever in the 35-year period since the first HVS in 1965. Housing maintenance condition and neighborhood quality improved greatly over the last 3 years.

"This survey shows that the City has made tremendous strides in improving the condition of housing and the quality of life in New York's neighborhoods," said Mayor Giuliani. "During the last several years, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has increased affordable housing opportunities and helped revitalize neighborhoods for New Yorkers. HPD initiatives have sought to halt and reverse the deterioration and abandonment of the existing housing stock and to generate new housing opportunities. HPD returns properties the City acquired through tax foreclosure to responsible private owners and builds public-private partnerships and programs that help revitalize neighborhoods by promoting investment and involving neighborhood resources. We will continue to work aggressively to address the housing needs of New Yorkers."

Commissioner Roberts said, "Initial findings of this housing survey demonstrate that although there is more work to do in providing rental housing in New York City, our current policies have improved the quality of existing housing and produced additional affordable housing opportunities for the residents of New York City."

The Housing and Vacancy Survey, which is produced every three years, is the principal source of data required for determining the City's rental vacancy rate, the supply of housing accommodations, and the condition of such accommodations and for understanding other urgent housing situations in the City. The survey excludes "Special Places," such as institutions, group quarters, dormitories, and commercial hotels.

The final report on the 1999 Housing and Vacancy Survey will be released early next year by HPD, which commissioned the survey.

Initial findings of the survey also indicate that:

  • Residential building condition improved markedly. The percent of renter-occupiedunits in dilapidated buildings was just 1.0 percent in 1999, a further improvementover 1996, when the dilapidation rate was 1.3 percent.
  • Housing maintenance condition improved extensively. The proportion of renter-occupiedunits with no maintenance deficiencies increased from 42.1 percent in1996 to 45.5 percent in 1999.
  • The proportion of renter-occupied units with no heating breakdownsrose markedly from 80.4 percent in 1996 to 83.7 percent in 1999.
  • Neighborhood quality improved greatly. The proportion of renter householdsnear buildings with broken or boarded-up windows on the same street declinedfrom 11.4 percent in 1996 to 8.8 percent in 1999.
  • The proportion of renter households that rated the quality of their neighborhoodresidential structures as "good" or "excellent" increased markedly from 63.9percent to 68.6 percent between 1996 and 1999.
  • The crowding situation became somewhat more serious in 1999. The proportionof renter households that were crowded (more than one person per room) in 1999was 11.0 percent, a slight increase over 1996, when the crowding rate was 10.3percent.
  • Between 1996 and 1999, the rental vacancy rate declined in all boroughs,except Staten Island. The rate in the Bronx decreased from 5.43 percent to 5.04percent; in Brooklyn, it dropped from 4.20 percent to 3.26 percent; in Manhattan,it fell from 3.47 percent to 2.57 percent; and, in Queens, it declined from3.28 percent to 2.11 percent. On the other hand, the rental vacancy rate increasedsignificantly in Staten Island from 4.17 percent to 5.82 percent.
  • The vacancy rate in 1999 for units with asking rents of less than $400 was1.26 percent, down from the 1996 vacancy rate of 3.21 percent, using inflation-adjustedasking rents (changing 1996 rents into April 1999 dollars). The vacancy ratefor units with a monthly asking rent level of $400-$499 fell from 3.31 percentin 1996 to 2.53 percent in 1999. The vacancy rate for units in the $500-$599level decreased from 3.89 percent to 2.86 percent.
  • The vacancy rate for asking rents between $600 and $699 also decreased considerablyfrom 4.58 percent in 1996 to 3.44 percent in 1999, while the rate for unitswith asking rents in the $700-$799 level did not change much in the three-yearperiod. However, as the citywide rental vacancy rate declined during the period,vacancy rates for the next two higher levels of asking rent also declined markedly.The rate decreased from 5.52 percent to 3.75 percent for the $800-$899 leveland from 4.06 percent to 2.74 percent for the $900-$999 level.
  • The rental vacancy rates for the two higher levels of asking rents between$1,000 and $1,749 remained stable, while the rate for the highest rent level,$1,750 and over, increased significantly, from 3.40 percent in 1996 to 5.70percent in 1999.
  • The median income for all households (renters and owners combined)increased considerably by 11.5 percent, from $29,600 in 1995 to $33,000 in 1998.The inflation-adjusted median income (changing 1995 dollars into 1998 dollars)for all households increased by 4.2 percent.
  • The median income of renter households increased by 8.8 percent,from $23,892 in 1995 to $26,000 in 1998. However, after adjusting for inflation,the median income of renter households increased slightly by 1.7 percent duringthe three-year period.
  • The median income of homeowners was $53,000 in 1998, a 9.1 percentincrease over 1995, when it was $48,562. After adjusting for inflation, however,the median income of homeowners increased by just 2.0 percent.
  • The proportion of renter households with incomes below the poverty leveldropped noticeably from 26.3 percent in 1995 to 24.5 percent in 1998.
  • The median monthly gross rent, which includes fuel and utility payments,increased by 9.4 percent, from $640 in 1996 to $700 in 1999. However, the inflation-adjustedincrease in median gross rent (changing 1996 rent into April 1999 dollars) was3.1 percent.
  • The median monthly contract rent, which excludes tenant payments for fueland utilities, increased by 8.0 percent, from $600 in 1996 to $648 in 1999.This was a 1.9-percent increase, after adjusting for inflation.
  • The median gross rent-income ratio fell from 30.0 percent in 1996 to 29.2percent in 1999.

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