The Housing Court in the Bronx is a crush on New Yorkers desperately battling eviction and dire living conditions, and others struggling to collect the rent they need amid rising interest and other expenses.
“There are like rodents running around. There are cockroaches,” tenant Dwayne Osborne said.
“Con Edison, DEP, Wi-Fi, they all keep coming in with bills, and we have to keep paying them no matter what,” owner Pedro Sena said.
The tension in these halls seems a world away from the high-end living that has helped skyrocket rents in the city.
In an interconnected New York, market forces and politics, profit and politics all play a role in creating this affordability crisis, at the root of which supply is not meeting demand.
“In 2010, the Department of Planning estimated that by 2030 we would reach a population of 8.8 million people,” said Basha Gerhards, senior vice president of planning at the Real Estate Board of New York, or REBNY. “It’s 2022. We hit that benchmark 10 years early. However, when you look at housing production, we’re at least 10 years behind.”
About 560,000 apartments need to be built by 2030 to meet population growth, according to a report by the Real Estate Board of New York.
Looking at affordable housing alone, while 29,408 such units are planned in fiscal year 2021, only 16,042 were started in the last fiscal year, the mayor’s management report revealed.
And what is affordable is relative. In Manhattan, the average rent was $4,094 in August 2021, but rose to $5,246 last August, according to a report by Douglas Elliman.
“One of the predictions during COVID was that actually the city would die, that people wouldn’t want to be here anymore,” said Matthew Murphy, executive director of NYU Furman Center. “And we’ve seen the opposite. We’ve actually seen people coming back, and then we’ve also seen rents go up in really extraordinary ways as a result of that coming back.”
In a city where home ownership, or even market-priced housing, is out of reach for so many, protecting renters, especially those on a paycheck from homelessness, is a priority. .
“We are not building enough housing to meet the needs of the people who want to live here, and the people who are hurt the most are the people who live in unprotected housing, who have low incomes and cannot afford rent increases,” said Cea Weaver, campaign coordinator for Housing Justice for All.
So, will it be time to calculate housing in New York? After all, according to the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey, the vacancy rate for apartments rented between $801 and $1,499 is only 0.9%.
“It’s functionally zero, so what are you going to be able to find?” Murphy said. “It’s a bit of our fault, but it’s getting worse, it’s getting a bit worse. The challenges are getting bigger and bigger, and they require solutions on a much larger scale.”