Briefing Book
Appendix A:
The Housing Supply in New York City

A Briefing Book


Appendix A


This appendix will briefly describe the composition of New York
City's housing stock, including an overview of rental housing. A
more detailed discussion of the availability of rental housing,
as expressed by vacancy rates is also included.


An examination of three characteristics of the housing stock-
number of units, location, and tenure -- is useful in examining
its distribution [Table A].

                             Table A
      Location and Tenure Status of Occupied Housing Units
                       New York City, 1991

                           -- Renter --
                           Cash    No Cash               Occupied
Location                   Rent       Rent      Owner       Units

Bronx                   327,509      4,130     78,596     410,235
                          (80%)       (1%)      (19%)      (100%)

Brooklyn                592,154      9,987    218,582     820,723
                          (72%)       (1%)      (27%)      (100%)

Manhattan               553,946     14,313    136,198     704,458
                          (79%)       (2%)      (19%)      (100%)

Queens                  389,836      9,432    311,608     710,876
                          (55%)       (1%)      (63%)      (100%)

Staten Island            48,549      1,720     84,150     134,419
                          (36%)       (1%)      (63%)      (100%)

All Occupied Units    1,911,994     39,582    829,135   2,780,711
                          (69%)       (1%)      (30%)      (100%)

Source: 1991 NYC HVS, Census Bureau Special Tabulation, "All
Occupied Housing Units by Borough and Tenure"

As indicated by the data, 70 percent of New York City's housing
is renter-occupied, while 30 percent is owner-occupied. However,
this distribution varies greatly by borough. The Bronx has the
highest percentage (81) of rental housing. Staten Island has both
the lowest number of total housing units (134,419) and the lowest
percentage (37) of rental units. Notably, Manhattan has both a
large number of housing units (704,458) and a high percentage
(81) of rental units. Queens has an even greater number of
housing units than Manhattan (710,876) but a much lower
percentage (56) of rentals. In summary, the Bronx and Manhattan
are overwhelmingly renter in tenure status, while Staten Island -
and to a lesser extent Queens -- tend to be more owner-occupied.

After examining the distribution of occupied housing, it is worth
noting the distribution of vacancies [Table B].

                             Table B
           Tenure Status and Location of Vacant Units
                       New York City, 1991

                                                 Staten    Vacant
           Bronx  Brooklyn Manhattan   Queens    Island     Units
Rent      13,402    19,314    26,619   15,196     7,180    76,727
           (47%)     (39%)     (41%)    (37%)     (31%)     (40%)

Sale       4,599     8,504     4,655    9,204     2,196    28,973
           (16%)     (17%)      (7%)    (22%)     (28%)     (15%)

Available 10,412    21,435    34,406   16,613     2,011    85,839
           (37%)     (44%)     (52%)    (41%)     (41%)     (45%)

Units     28,414    49,253    65,679   41,014     2,073   191,540
          (100%)    (100%)    (100%)   (100%)    (100%)    (100%)

Source: 1991 NYC HVS, U.S. Census Bureau Special Tabulation, "All
Vacant Housing by Borough by Vacancy Status"

Citywide, 40 percent of vacant units are for rent, 15 percent are
for sale, and another 45 percent are not available for rent or
sale. The median duration of vacancies varies significantly by
tenure. Median rental vacancies last 1.8 months, while units for
sale have a median duration of 5.4 months.

In terms of the number of vacancies, each borough roughly mirrors
the citywide distribution. However, the Bronx has a significantly
higher percentage of rental vacancies (47 percent) due to the
overwhelming rental nature of the borough's housing stock. Again,
due to the composition of its housing stock, Staten Island has a
significantly lower percentage of rental vacancies (31 percent).
Manhattan has the highest percentage of unavailable vacant units
(52 percent).

As these unavailable units constitute a considerable percentage
of the city-wide vacant housing stock -- some 45 percent, in fact
-- it is worth examining the reasons why such units are not
available. Data from the HVS list the reasons cited for the
unavailability of vacant units [Table C].

                             Table C
               Reason Unit is Not for Sale or Rent
                       New York City, 1991

Reason                                 Number          Percentage

Held for occasional, seasonal or
recreational use                       19,696               21.2%

Held for other reasons
(than those listed)                    14,970               16.1%

Awaiting renovation                    11,172               12.1%

Undergoing renovation                  10,242               11.0%

Dilapidated                             8,512                9.2%

Rented-not yet occupied                 6,979                7.5%

In legal dispute                        4,616                5.0%

Sold-not yet occupied                   4,527                4.9%

Owner unable to rent or sell*           3,909                4.2%

Held pending sale of building           3,641                3.9%

Awaiting conversion to
coop or condo                           3,017                3.3%

Held for planned demolition               155                 .2%

Not Reported                            1,607                1.7%

TOTAL                                  94,351              100.0%

* For reason other than market conditions, such as illness, etc.

Source: 1991 NYC HVS Tabulation Package, Series IIB, Table 76


In examining the distribution of New York City's rental housing
stock, the key unit of analysis is regulatory status-herein
referred to as control status. The HVS data illustrate the
distribution of rental housing by regulatory status [Table D].

                             Table D
    Distribution of Occupied Rental Housing by Control Status
                       New York City, 1991

Control Status                    Number          Percentage

Controlled                       124,411                6.4%
Stabilized                       971,076               50.0%
Mitchell Lama                     83,183                4.3%
Public Housing                   174,254                8.9%
Other*                           598,652               30.7%

TOTAL                          1,951,576              100.0%

Source: 1991 HVS Tabulation Package, Series IA

* The unit of analysis "Other" refers to in-rem, HUD federally
subsidized, Article 4, Loft Board regulated, and unregulated

Exactly 50 percent of New York City's housing stock is rent
stabilized while 6.4 percent is rent controlled. Explanations of
rent control and rent stabilization follow [see Appendix B].
Before moving to a description of rent regulation, however, a
discussion of the availability of rental housing is in order.


Rent regulation is designed to respond to a housing shortage, so
it is necessary to document the extent and nature of the housing
shortage in New York City today. Despite a downturn in the
economy and increased vacancies at the upper end of the rental
market, a housing crisis for low-, moderate- and middle-income
tenants persists.

Definition of a Shortage.

The main rationale for rent regulation, as mentioned earlier, is
a shortage of housing. The net vacancy rate -- the percentage of
the habitable housing stock that is vacant and available for rent
-- is the threshold figure used by housing analysts and policy
makers to measure a shortage. For policy and legal purposes, the
generally accepted indicator of a shortage is a vacancy rate of 5
percent or less. Under both the rent control and rent
stabilization laws, procedures to lift controls are triggered
when the vacancy rate reaches or exceeds 5 percent.

The 5 percent threshold has come to be accepted with little
rationale. Some analysts have pointed out the rather arbitrary
nature of the measure and have argued that factors beyond the
vacancy rate should be considered when determining the function
and structure of rent regulation in a given housing market.
Though the vacancy rate alone perhaps should not drive rent
regulation decisions (as it does currently), it does serve as a
useful measure of the availability of rental housing.

Vacancy Rates.

In 1991, the net vacancy rate for all of New York City reached
3.78 percent -- a more than 1 percent increase from 1987, when
the net vacancy rate was 2.46 percent. However, this vacancy rate
varies across boroughs and by rent levels. In fact, despite an
increase in the overall vacancy rate, there was a loss of
apartments in the lower-priced rental categories. The net vacancy
rate for rent stabilized apartments is also lower than the rate
for other apartments and for the city as a whole. These rates are
indicated by the HVS data on the percentage of housing that is
vacant and available for rent [Table E].

                             Table E
                   Net Vacancy Rate by Borough
                  New York City, 1987 and 1991

                    -- 1987 --           -- 1991 --
              Available   Vacancy   Available   Vacancy   Percent
                  Units      Rate       Units      Rate    Change

Bronx             6,196     1.85%      13,402     3.88%    +2.03%
Brooklyn         13,476     2.29%      19,314     3.11%    + .82%
Manhattan        16,709     2.99%      26,619     4.48%    +1.49%
Queens            9,251     2.28%      15,196     3.67%    +1.39%
Staten Island     1,853     4.15%       2,196     4.20%    + .05%
NYC              47,486     2.46%      76,727     3.78%    +1.32%

Source: 1991 HVS Tabulation Package, Series IA, Table 14 and
Series IIA, Table 14.

Vacancy rates increased in all boroughs, but both the amount of
the increase and the net vacancy rate for each borough vary
greatly. Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx each have
vacancy rates above the citywide average.

Vacancy rates tend to vary much more greatly by price range than
location. There are two ways to measure pricing: by apartment and
by room. Apartment measures do not indicate how much space is
being rented for the price. On the other hand, measuring by room
results in some skewing, because small units comprise a
substantial portion of New York City apartments and tend to be
more costly per room. Whichever measure is used, there has been
some loss of lower-priced apartments since 1987 [Table F].

The data indicate that there were only modest increases in the
number of apartments renting for less than $500 per month and an
actual loss of apartments renting for $300 to $399. An
examination of rent per room indicates an even more significant
loss of lower-priced apartments [Table G].

                             Table F
     Net Vacancy Rate by Monthly Contract Rent Per Apartment
                  New York City, 1987 and 1991

                   -- 1987 --            -- 1991 --
Monthly      Available   Vacancy    Available   Vacancy   Percent
Rent             Units      Rate        Units      Rate    Change

than $300        5,836      .96%        4,391     1.15%     +.19%

$300-$399       10,115     2.15%        4,858     1.74%     -.41%

$400-$499        7,843     2.44%        9,670     2.74%     +.30%

$500 or more    19,196     4.28%       48,085     5.26%     +.98%

TOTAL           47,486     2.46%       76,727     3.78%    +1.32%

Source: 1991 NYC HVS Tabulation Package, Series IA, Table 33 and
Series IIA, Table 34.

                             Table G
       Net Vacancy Rate by Monthly Contract Rent Per Room
                  New York City, 1987 and 1991

                   -- 1987 --                     -- 1991 --
Monthly      Available   Vacancy    Available   Vacancy   Percent
Rent             Units      Rate        Units      Rate    Change

Less than $75    3,850      .79%        1,871      .55%     -.24%

$75 to $99       6,213     1.77%        2,537     1.26%     -.51%

$100 to $149    14,645     2.75%        9,646     1.74%    -1.01%

$150 to $299    10,234     3.15%       32,434     5.48%    +1.70%

$300 or more     7,699     5.98%       19,949     8.35%    +4.57%

Source: 1991 NYC HVS Tabulation Package, Series IA, Table 33 and
Series IIA, Table 34.

Unlike the net vacancy rates by rent levels for apartments,
measures of contract rent per room illustrate a net loss for all
categories of the lowest-priced apartments (those renting for
$150 per room or less). The biggest loss (-1.01 percent) is in
the range of apartments renting for $100-$149 per room per month.
While loss in the lowest-priced category is expected due to the
general upward pricing of the market, the loss of apartments
renting in the $100-$149 per room range indicates a shortage
above and beyond the pricing-up trend.

The rent stabilized submarket exhibits trends similar to those in
the overall rental market, in that the bulk of vacancies rests at
the upper end. The overall vacancy rate of 3.60 percent for
stabilized apartments is largely a product of vacancies in the
most expensive apartments -- those renting for more than $300 per
room a month.

A Worsening Shortage.

Not only are vacancy rates for lower-priced apartments
substantially below the 5 percent benchmark, but there has been a
significant loss of lower-priced apartments between 1987 and
1991. Thus, a housing shortage persists and has actually worsened
for low-, moderate-, and middle-income renters.