HPD Releases Initial Findings from the 2021 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey

May 17, 2022

The 2021 survey provides rich information about NYC’s housing stock with enhanced representation, language access, safety, and accuracy in the first NYCHVS since the start of the pandemic.

NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) released selected initial findings from the 2021 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey (NYCHVS). Conducted since 1965, NYCHVS is the longest running housing survey in the country and the official source of the city’s net rental vacancy rate, used to determine the continued need for rent stabilization. Over time, the survey has kept up with the city’s evolution, with the 2021 survey expanding to measure the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on households among other updates.

The survey creates a comprehensive profile of the city’s housing stock, neighborhoods, population, and vacancy rate at a critical time – providing a snapshot of New Yorkers’ experience during the pandemic. Insights gleaned from the survey inform policy both locally and nationally and help guide efforts to build a more equitable city. HPD will release more data from the 2021 NYCHVS in the weeks and months to come as the New York City Council reviews its findings to determine if New York City remains in a housing emergency, and if there is a continued need for the city’s rent stabilization laws.

“The New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey is a critical tool for our understanding of the city’s housing market,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “New Yorkers can be confident that, despite all of the challenges, this year’s survey was conducted professionally and methodically — thanks in part to Intro 70, which I signed in March. The findings are clear: Our city’s affordable housing crisis is as dire as ever, and that’s why I am working every day to create and preserve the high-quality, affordable housing hard-working New Yorkers need and deserve.”

“The New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey is a critical tool in understanding our housing landscape,” said New York City Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “This data gives us insight into New York City’s ongoing housing emergency as well as the staggering level of rent burden, supply shortage and housing quality issues that we must address to give all New Yorkers the safe, quality and affordable homes they deserve.”

“The New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey paints a detailed portrait of what it’s like to live in New York City,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “Going forward, the survey data will inform our policymaking, our understanding of how New Yorkers experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, and help our leaders shape this city into a more fair and equitable home for all New Yorkers. While the exact brushstrokes will be analyzed by experts in the weeks and months to come, we are excited to release the initial findings to the public to better inform how we address the city’s housing needs in the years ahead.”

“New York City is incredibly lucky to have the Housing and Vacancy Survey as an unparalleled resource for understanding housing needs,” said Citizens Housing & Planning Council Interim Executive Director Sarah Watson. “It is a critical tool that gives NYC the ability to ground policy making and affordable housing practice in the reality of the housing situation. Citizens Housing & Planning Council is excited to read the Select Initial Findings and lauds the work of HPD to release the findings in the face of such a difficult context over the pandemic.”

“For more than 50 years the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey has been a crucial source of data that helps researchers understand housing conditions across the city," said Matt Murphy, Executive Director of the NYU Furman Center. "As the city’s neighborhoods continue to grow and recover, the 2021 HVS will serve as both baseline and roadmap, illustrating our needs and the potential paths to meet them."

Key data points from the 2021 NYCHVS selected initial findings include:

  • A citywide net rental vacancy rate of 4.54 percent.
  • The city’s overall median household income would need to double to afford the overall median asking rent of $2,750.
  • There is an extreme vacancy shortage among the city’s lowest-cost units: the vacancy rate for homes listed below $1,500 was less than 1 percent – the lowest in 30 years.
  • Since 2011, the level of rent burdened households has remained at the same high level: half of the city’s renter households spent more than 30 percent of their income on rent. One-third of the city’s renters spent over half of their income on rent, indicating a severe rent burden.
  • Many New York City renters struggled to make ends meet: 13 percent of renter households reported missing a rent payment in the last year.

Since 1965, HPD has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct the representative survey of the city’s housing stock approximately every three years. As the only Census survey sponsored by a local government, the NYCHVS focuses on questions that closely resonate with New Yorkers and provides critical information for policymakers to evaluate local housing programs and initiatives. The NYCHVS provides a portrait of the different types of housing in New York City – including public housing, co-ops and condos, market rate rental buildings, and single-family homes – along with housing types unique to the city’s housing stock, such as rent stabilized units, rent controlled units, and Mitchell-Lama buildings.

The 2021 NYCHVS was conducted from February 2021 to July 2021 through in-person interviews among a representative sample of New York City households. Processing of the data by the U.S. Census Bureau began in July 2021 and the Bureau granted final approval for public disclosure of the data scheduled to be released in May 2022.

On March 30, New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed Intro 70 into law, extending the deadline for the NYCHVS from April 1, 2022 to July 1, 2022. Sponsored by New York City Councilmember and Housing and Buildings Committee Chair Pierina Sanchez, Intro 70 was the first piece of legislation passed in 2022 by the New York City Council, and the first signed by Mayor Adams.

Over the nearly 60 years that the NYCHVS has been conducted, New York City has gone through countless changes. The NYCHVS has evolved with the city over time to improve the collection of data and accessibility of the survey. The 2021 NYCHVS was no exception, with adjustments made to address the realities of the pandemic in addition to implementing planned updates that allow for more insightful data.

The survey fieldwork in 2021 transitioned to an electronic process and expanded language access with questionnaires in seven languages. U.S. Census Bureau field workers conducted the interviews under new protocols to enhance safety while protecting the survey’s historical accuracy and integrity. Other key improvements associated with the redesign ensure the survey provides more data representative of key subsectors of the housing stock and population, including for the first time, estimates of the population served by affordable housing. Representative samples of various subsets of New Yorkers and the city’s housing stock allow for segmentation and comparison between demographics and housing types, allowing for better understanding of potential inequities in the housing market.

The latest survey included questions about the pandemic’s impact on New Yorkers well-being, financial stability, rent-burden levels, and indicators of New York City’s housing stock. A special module was added to capture critical information on how the pandemic affected New Yorkers’ health and well-being, financial stability, and family life. Together with data captured as part of the core survey, these additional data points provide new evidence on how COVID-19 impacted individuals and communities.

The 2021 NYCHVS collected a range of data that facilitates our understanding of current conditions in New York City as well as key measures that map how the city has changed over the last 50 years. Data from 2021 covers a variety of topics, including:

  • Size and composition of the housing inventory
  • Housing costs and affordability, quality, and subsidy
  • Tenure and building characteristics
  • Demographics, education, and income
  • Household composition and length of residence
  • Vacancy status
  • Household rent burden as a percentage of income
  • The prevalence of housing maintenance deficiencies
  • The state of housing specific to various housing types, including NYCHA buildings

Microdata and related documentation will be posted later in 2022 on the U.S. Census Bureau website and linked on HPD’s New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey webpage. For more information on the survey, including historical data and frequently asked questions, please visit HPD’s website.


The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and diverse, thriving neighborhoods for New Yorkers through loan and development programs for new affordable housing, preservation of the affordability of the existing housing stock, enforcement of housing quality standards, and educational programs for tenants and building owners. For full details visit www.nyc.gov/hpd and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing.