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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

Press Release # 11-09
Thursday, July 9, 2009

Catie Marshall 212.863.8076,


Revisions Necessitated by the Census Bureau’s Correction of Improper Base Weighting Resulted in Little to No Meaningful Changes in Technical or Policy-related Findings

Rental Vacancy Rate Still Remains Less than the Five Percent Threshold Necessary to Keep Rent Regulation Protections Intact for New York City Residents

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) today released revised initial results of the 2008 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey (HVS). The revised 2008 HVS data arose from the US Census Bureau’s correction of erroneous base weights applied to some sample units. Though the resulting changes had little to no meaningful effect on the survey’s technical or policy-related findings, it was important to revise the initial findings to preserve its accuracy for use in comparisons with past and future data. 

The revised data from the 2008 survey, which reveals a synopsis of the City’s housing market between February and June 2008, found that the citywide net rental vacancy rate was 2.91 percent – not 2.88 percent as originally reported – down from 3.09 percent in 2005. The City’s total housing stock rose to more than 3.33 million units – the largest in the 43-year period since the first survey was conducted in 1965 – and all five boroughs saw an increase in housing. New Yorkers’ satisfaction with their neighborhoods and overall building conditions reached their highest ever levels since they were first measured, 30 years ago and 43 years ago, respectively. 

The survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau at the request of the City of New York 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 five percent triggers the declaration of a “housing emergency,” 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 five percent. 

The survey draws its sample of roughly 21,000 housing units from the 2000 decennial census conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and updated by HPD to include new construction, conversion and alteration. Interviews for the survey were conducted between February and June, 2008.

In addition to restating the rental vacancy rate, the revised initial findings also restated the number of rent stabilized units lost in the three years since the last survey. The new data shows a loss of 20,430; though, under the New Housing Marketplace Plan, the City started construction or renovation of 46,196 affordable units (16,869 homeownership units and 29,327 rental units) during that time, most of which will fall under rent regulation once completed.

Rental and ownership rates were also affected by the revised weighting. From 2005 to 2008, the number of rent stabilized units in buildings constructed before 1947 fell by 30,000, or 4.0 percent, rather than 22,000, or 2.9 percent, as originally reported. The initial data also undercounted the increase in rent stabilized units in buildings constructed after 1947. The correct increase was 9,000, not 5,000. This resulted in a net loss of 20,000 units (numbers do not add up exactly because of rounding).

The median income of renter households in 2007 was also adjusted from $36,000 to $36,200, an increase of 13.1 percent from 2004, meaning that real income rose by 2.0 percent in the three years examined. The 2005 to 2008 increase in median gross rents, which include the cost of fuel and utilities, was also restated as a real dollar increase of 4.4 percent, rather than 4.2 percent, as originally stated. In addition, the number of people in 2008 applying more than 50 percent of their income for contract rent was adjusted slightly from 25.8 percent (the same as in 2005) to 25.9 percent in 2008.

Full details of the 2008 Housing and Vacancy Survey revised initial findings are available on HPD’s website at The comprehensive final report on the 2008 survey will be released in 2010 by HPD, which commissioned the independent survey on behalf of the City of New York.

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The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)

HPD’s mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers. It is the nation's largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing, HPD also actively promotes the preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. For more information visit

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