The headline read Brooklyn is quickly losing its cheap apartments, but not many readers could remember having seen any cheap apartments at all.
Brooklyn has lost more cheap apartments than any other borough over the last decade, according to a report released by city Comptroller Scott Stringer.
“In the halcyon days of 2005, there were 1.5 million apartments citywide renting for $900 or less — now there are just 500,000,” reported the New York Post. “And no borough has felt the growing pains more than Brooklyn, which lost 367,376 cheap digs over the period.”
In 2005, the Borough of Kings had 513,077 units at $900 or below — now just 145,701 remain. “We’re seeing the most dramatic changes in Brooklyn and Queens, places where large communities of immigrants and working families have made their homes. Housing should be a way into the middle class, not a barrier to it. We need to take action,” Stringer said at a press conference. “Our city is changing rapidly, especially in the boroughs. Neighborhoods that used to be havens for middle-class families are getting more expensive every day – and the New Yorkers who built those communities up, are being pushed out.”
Citywide, only about 20 percent of apartments cost $900 or less — compared to 74 percent in 2005, Stringer’s study found. Meanwhile, note the Post, “the share of apartments renting for $2,700 and up skyrocketed roughly five times higher over the period, from 2.7 percent to 13.9 percent.”
“Not only has the challenge of affordable, low-cost housing not gotten better – it has in fact accelerated, leaving the City’s lowest-income households with fewer and fewer options for affordable housing,” the reports reads.
The substantial shift in the price distribution of rental apartments away from lower-priced units, to more middle- and high-rent units was seen across all five boroughs, although Manhattan was the only borough with a loss of low-cost rental units that exceeded its gain of higher-cost rental units.
One factor that may have contributed to the rising cost of housing is that the supply of housing has failed to keep up with the continuing growth in the City’s population. Between 2005 and 2016, the City added an estimated 576,000 residents – but a mere 76,211 net new units of occupied rental housing. Between 2011 and 2017, the number of occupied rental units actually declined (insignificantly – 942 units), while the total
available rental inventory (both occupied and unoccupied units) rose by a mere 0.5% or 10,430 units. In contrast, the number of unavailable units rose by 51%, from 164,467 in 2011 to 247,977 in 2017.
By Howard M. Riell
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