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Housing and Vacancy Survey

Selected Findings of the 1996 New York City
Housing and Vacancy Survey


Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Commissioner
Cynthia D. Fisher, Deputy Commissioner
Moon Wha Lee, Assistant Commissioner
New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development
(February 20, 1996)

The following is a summary of the initial findings of the 1996 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey (HVS).

A. Housing Inventory

  1. The number of housing units in New York City has remained relatively stable: 2,986,000 in 1993 and 2,995,000 in 1996. The number of rental units was 2,027,000 comprising about 68 percent of the housing stock in 1996.
  2. Vacant units, both rental and owner, increased considerably between 1993 and 1996: first, vacant units available for rent increased by 16 percent from 70,000 to 81,000 and, second, vacant units available for sale increased slightly by 15 percent from 21,000 to 24,000. On the other hand, the number of vacant units not available for sale or rent was little changed: 112,000 in 1993 and 110,000 in 1996.
  3. Rent-controlled units numbered 71,000 or 3.6 percent of the occupied rental stock in 1996: they housed 127,000 persons. The number of rent-controlled units declined by 31,000 or 31 percent, from 102,000 units in 1993.
  4. About 1,052,000 rent-stabilized units (occupied and vacant) comprised 52 percent of the rental stock in 1996. This number has increased slightly since 1993, when it was 1,013,000. Rent-stabilized units housed 2,441,000 million persons in 1996.

Table 1: New York City Housing Inventory, 1993 and 1996

Table 2: Housing Inventory by Control Status, New York City, 1993 and 1996.


B. Vacancies

  1. The 1996 HVS reports a citywide increase of about 11,000 vacant-for-rent units, raising the vacancy rate for units available for rent during the period between March and June of 1996 to 4.01 percent, up from 3.44 percent during the similar period in 1993. (In 1993 and previous survey years, the survey interviews were usually conducted between late January and May. However, in 1996, due to two government-wide federal furloughs followed by snow storm closings, the Census Bureau had to delay the survey interview by more than four weeks.) The 1996 vacancy rate is significantly lower than 5 percent and, thus, meets the legal definition of a housing emergency.
  2. Between 1993 and 1996, the rental vacancy rate in the Bronx increased from 3.99 percent to 5.43 percent; in Brooklyn it rose from 3.25 to 4.20 percent; in Queens the rental vacancy rate was 3.07 in 1993 and 3.28 percent in 1996. The rental vacancy rate in Manhattan was little changed: 3.52 percent in 1993 and 3.47 percent in 1996. The vacancy rate remained virtually the same in Staten Island.
  3. The vacancy rate for rent-stabilized units was 3.36 percent in 1993 and 3.57 percent in 1996.
  4. The vacancy rate for low-rent units increased considerably between 1993 and 1996. The vacancy rate in 1996 for units with asking rents of less than $300 was 1.46 percent, up from the 1993 vacancy rate of 0.64 percent, using inflation-adjusted asking rents (changing 1993 rents into April 1996 dollars.) The vacancy rate for units with a monthly asking rent level of $300-$399 increased from 0.91 percent in 1993 to 3.59 percent in 1996. The vacancy rate for the $400-$499 level increased from 1.58 percent in 1993 to 3.20 percent in 1996.
  5. Vacancy rates for three levels of asking rents between $600 and $899 increased considerably from the vacancy rates in 1993. The vacancy rates increased from 3.67 percent to 5.10 percent for $600-$699, from 4.88 percent to 5.20 percent for $700-$799, and from 5.09 percent to 5.81 percent for $800 $899.
  6. The rental vacancy rate for the three levels of asking rents over $900 declined considerably between 1993 and 1996: from 4.44 percent to 3.53 percent for $900-$999: from 5.63 percent to 4.65 percent for $1,000-$1,249; and from 5.18 percent to 2.47 percent for units with asking rents of $1,250 or more.
  7. The number of vacant units not available for sale or rent was about 112,000 in 1993 and 110,000 in 1996. Of these, the number of units undergoing or awaiting renovation increased considerably, from 23,000 in 1993 to 31,000 in 1996; on the other hand, the number of units in the category of occasional, seasonal, or recreational use declined from about 40,000 to 33,000. Of units in the latter category, 55 percent were in co-op or condominium buildings, and two-thirds were located in Manhattan.

Table 3: Vacant Units Available for Rent by Borough, New York City, 1993 and 1996

Table 4: Rent Stabilized Vacant Units and Vacancy Rates, New York City, 1993 and 1996

Table 5: Number of Vacant Units Available for Rent and Net Vacancy Rate by Monthly Rent Level in 1996 Dollars, New York City, 1993 and 1996

Table 6: Reasons Unavailable Vacant Units are Not Available for Sale or Rent, 1993 and 1996

 

C. Incomes

(Note that incomes are reported for 1995, while housing data are for 1996.)

  1. The median income for all households (renters and owners) increased from $23,000 in 1992 to $25,000 in 1995, or 8.7 percent. The inflation-adjusted median income (changing 1992 income into 1995 dollars) for all households was $24,871 in 1992 and $25,000 in 1995
  2. The median income of renter households increased by 5.2 percent, from $19,005 in 1992 to $20,000 in 1995. However, after adjusting for inflation, the median income of renter households declined slightly by 2.7 percent.
  3. The median income of homeowners was $45,000 in 1995, a 12.0 percent increase since 1992, when it was $40,195. After adjustment for inflation, however, the median income of homeowners increased by just 3.5 percent.
  4. The median income of rent-controlled households was $12,408 in 1995. This median income declined by 20.3 percent from the inflation-adjusted median income in 1992.
  5. The median income of rent-stabilized households was $21,600 in 1995, about the same as their inflation-adjusted median income in 1992.
  6. The median income of renter households in pre-1947 rent-stabilized units was $20,000 in 1995. Their inflation-adjusted incomes declined by 4.1 percent since 1992. On the other hand, the 1995 median income of renter households in post-1947 rent-stabilized units of $30,000 showed and inflation-adjusted increase of 13.2 percent since 1992.
  7. The proportion of renter households with incomes below the poverty level increased from 29.9 percent in 1992 to 32.3 percent in 1995.

Table 7: Median Household Incomes, New York City, 1992 and 1995

Table 8: Median Renter Household Incomes by Control Status, New York City, 1992 and 1995 (Constant 1995 Dollars)

Table 9: Households Below Poverty Level, New York City, 1992 and 1995

 

D. Rents

  1. The median monthly gross rent, which includes utility payments, increased by 14.3 percent, from $551 in 1993 to $630 in 1996. However, the inflation-adjusted increase in median gross rent (changing 1993 rent into April 1996 dollars) was just 6.1 percent.
  2. The median monthly contract rent, which excludes tenant payments for utilities, increased by 18.4 percent, form $501 in 1993 to $593 in 1996. This was a 9.8 percent increase after adjusting for inflation.
  3. The proportion of low-rent units declined significantly between 1993 and 1996 even after adjusting for inflation. In April 1996 dollars, the proportion of units with monthly gross rents less than $400 a month decreased from 21 percent to 18 percent of occupied renter units. The proportion of units with monthly gross rents between $400 and $599 also decreased from 29 percent to 27 percent.
  4. On the other hand, the proportion of units with monthly gross rents between $600 and $999 in April 1996 dollars increased from 38 percent to 44 percent of occupied renter units.
  5. Again using April 1996 dollars, the proportion of occupied units with monthly gross rents of $1,000 or more was 11 percent in 1993 and 12 percent in 1996.
  6. The median gross rent-income ratio increased from 30.8 in 1993 to 32.3 in 1996.

Table 10: Median Rents, All Renter-Occupied Units, New York City, 1993 and 1996

Table 11: Monthly Gross Rent in Renter Occupied Housing, New York City, 1993 and 1996 (Constant April 1996 Dollars)

Table 12: Median Gross Rent/Income Ratios, New York City, 1993 and 1996

 

E. Housing Condition

  1. The quality of the structural and maintenance condition of renter occupied units remained very good. The percent of renter-occupied units in dilapidated buildings was 1.3 percent in 1996, about the same as the 1993 dilapidation rate of 1.2 percent.
  2. The proportion of renter-occupied units in buildings with no building defects was 88.6 percent in 1996, compared to 89.3 percent in 1993.
  3. The proportion of renter-occupied units with no maintenance deficiencies was 41.0 percent in 1993 and 42.1 percent in 1996.
  4. The proportion of renter-occupied units with no heating breakdowns went from 79.9 percent in 1993 to 80.4 percent in 1996.
  5. Neighborhood quality improved. The proportion of renter households near buildings with broken or boarded-up windows on the street declined from 13.7 percent in 1993 to 11.4 percent in 1996.
  6. The proportion of renter households which rated the quality of their neighborhood residential structures as "good" or "excellent" increased from 61.8 percent to 63.9 percent between 1993 and 1996.

Table 13: Housing and Neighborhood Condition, New York City, 1993 and 1996

 

F. Crowding

  1. The crowding situation in 1996 remained the same as in 1993. The proportion of renter households that were crowded (more than one person per room) in 1996 was 10.3 percent, identical to the rate in 1993.

Table 14: Crowding Rates in Renter Occupied Units, New York City, 1993 and 1996


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