New York’s Housing Fails to Keep Pace With Employment Growth

Central Park South skyline from across Sheep Meadow, image by Andrew Campbell NelsonCentral Park South skyline from across Sheep Meadow, image by Andrew Campbell Nelson

The worsening housing crisis within the Five Boroughs has been apparent to most residents for quite some time. And now, the Department of City Planning is taking notice. Today, YIMBY has the latest from an event held earlier this week for an Association for a Better New York (ABNY), where its first director affirmed the need to produce more housing, as both New York and its suburbs are failing in this capacity.

Recent changes in housing and employment

“The city is experiencing rapid change right now. We’re experiencing massive population growth and economic growth,” the City’s first regional planning director, Carolyn Grossman Meagher, said of the roughly two percent annual job growth.

According to Grossman Meagher, not enough new housing has been built in the region to keep up with the growth, causing rents to soar.

“One thing we know is that affordability is a regional challenge. Rent costs are becoming increasingly unaffordable to our population. It’s consistent across all parts of the region,” said Grossman Meagher.

“Collectively, our housing market is just not producing enough housing to keep the prices affordable to all residents of our region and that collectively is a shared challenge in our regional housing market,” she added.

In turn, rents as a share of New Yorkers’ incomes have increased. From 2000 to 2016, for example, the share of renters spending over 30 percent of their income on rent rose from 43 to 54 percent, according to Grossman’s presentation.

Additionally, the amount of New Yorkers moving to New York area suburbs has declined. Instead of moving to Long Island and Westchester, Grossman Meagher said people from the city have elected to leave town for places like Los Angeles, Denver and Atlanta. This is partly because while northern New Jersey has built housing at a comparatively high rate, Westchester and Long Island have brought housing production to a near halt.

“The relief valve that the suburbs have historically played in complementing our housing supply, that relationship is actually slowing down. And what we’re seeing is that historically the number of people leaving our region for our city’s suburbs is decreasing,” she said. “Over time, the number of people leaving the city overall is declining and the number of people leaving the suburbs for somewhere else is also declining.”

Grossman Meagher said she wasn’t sure if the city’s surrounding suburbs would soon build housing at the rates they once had. “There’s a real question as to whether or not other parts of the suburbs will find their way back to performing at these levels when they’re underperforming by about half.”

And while the New York suburbs have significantly slowed their housing production, Grossman Meagher said the city has not built enough housing, either. From 2008 to 2016, the city has permitted 178,000 more jobs than units of housing.

Moving forward, the city predicts that by by 2050 there will be a demand of 1.6 million additional units of housing in the New York region.

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20 Comments on "New York’s Housing Fails to Keep Pace With Employment Growth"

  1. Even NYC has limits to how many people it can absorb. 8.5 million people is enough.

  2. Please pardon me for using your space: Do you like concave side tower?

  3. The previous commenter exemplifies the pervasive NIMBYism in NYC that has lead to the housing shortage and skyrocketing housing costs in the metropolitan area. It also shows the hypocrisy of the predominant liberals of NYC. On one hand they extoll the virtues of sanctuary cities and open borders but on the other they do not want anymore people into their neighborhoods.

    Similarly the Left also cries about climate change but the best way to deal with climate change is for cities to become denser. Density means less dependence on automobiles as a means of transportation. NYC has one of the lowest carbon footprints per capital in the country precisely because of its density and mass transit system.

    Since the human population is going to grow by billions in the next several decades, the environmentally smart way to accommodate that growth is to direct that growth to cities and NYC with the best mass transit system in the country is as good as any place for it.

  4. * per capita

    • A subway system that the mayor hates and is quickly falling in to disrepair so now people drive into the city or use a car service. Clogging the streets every hour of the day and night with traffic.

  5. I wish I could find a report that shows population, jobs, building permits as well legal & illegal subdividing of existing residential buildings, illegal conversions of residences, manufacturing or commercial buildings or loft buildings. Then we might get a true view of the “housing crisis” here in NYC.

    While you’re at it can someone give a true number of all “affordable” housing units in 2000 and again in 2016?

    No, didn’t think so.

  6. eddie spaghetti | May 26, 2018 at 6:41 am | Reply

    the housing crisis has nothing to do with either liberals or conservatives. nimbyism runs well across that spectrum. ie., why isn’t victory blvd getting lined with apt towers? also, if you read the article you see the suburban mish mash of political leanings is also equally blocking development. however, if you want to play politics the housing crisis does have to do with the popularity of the city, which of course has a perceived liberalism.

    • Yes, Victory Boulevard on Staten Island’s north shore. In fact, the entire north shore of Staten Island is just sitting there, hiding in plain sight. Yes, a half hour ferry ride is a formidable addition to anyone’s commute, but is it really worse than sitting on a crowded train for that amount of time coming in from Queens, the Bronx or outer Brooklyn?

      • Staten Island’s extremely limited infrastructure cannot handle even limited new apartment building construction. The water/sewer systems were not designed for a high-density population. That can’t be changed now 60 years after the fact. SI will never have a direct subway connection. It will always be an auto-based borough. Then there’s the limited arterial road network. The ferry does add 30 mins to your commute but it’s not the only way to get to Manhattan, there are the express buses too.

  7. By the way, the latest census shows NYC started losing more people than it gained in 2017, and that this is a reversion to the norm when the national economy is growing. I remain very skeptical that NYC will hit a population figure of 9 million. Also, maybe it would ease the housing “crisis” if landlords were prohibited from keeping vacant units empty – a report about 2 months ago mentioned that as many as a 250,000 apartments were mothballed while landlords waited for rents to rise.

    • The population is still growing though… The reality is that the vacancy rate is extremely low… The only things that would stop 9 million is the lack of capacity in the subway system – or an extreme recession.

  8. The NIMBY problem is much worse in the suburbs than in the city. In the city, it’s more a problem of part-time residents and Airbnb eating up housing stock. But in the suburbs — well, how many hundreds of acres are eaten up just by parking lots near transit? These lots should all become mixed-use hubs with parking decks and towers on top.

  9. I always wonder why we can’t build new towers that that contain not only high end luxury apartments. With the latest technologies and intelligent architecture they will be also profitable for their investors, no?

  10. There is no housing crisis. Many people just can’t afford the luxury apartments being built all over the city. All you do is blame NIMBY but when all you build is apartments where a one small bedroom cost $3,000 a month to rent then, of course, there will be a housing crisis. Half of new yorkers can’t afford even a studio. Those apartments sit on the market for days and the ones that do get rented don’t even last a whole year before it’s back up on the market.

    • Land and labor are extremely expensive everywhere in NYC. The days of cheap apartment construction are long gone.

    • But you can’t charge 3k and get it if the market doesn’t support it… Continuing to build means rent has to come down. It’s already happening on the higher end. The issue is though the subway system can’t support the growth.

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