Gentrification Worsens Housing Affordability and Rent-Burdens in New York City

New York University’s Furman Center released its annual report, The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2015. This year’s report analyzes the effects of gentrification in the city; changes in the city’s demographics, labor market, land use, and housing market; and borough-specific profiles. The report reveals worsening housing affordability and rising rent burdens.

The gentrification section of the report focuses on New York City’s 55 sub-borough areas (SBAs). The report categorized SBAs as “gentrifying” if they were low-income in 1990 and experienced above-median rent growth, “non-gentrifying” if they were low-income in 1990 and experienced more modest growth, and “higher-income” if they were not low income in 1990. All SBAs except those in Staten Island saw an increase in the percent of households with a rent burden, meaning they spent 30% or more of pre-tax income on rent plus utilities. In gentrifying neighborhoods, the share of low income households earning between 50 and 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) who were rent burdened increased from 28.8% to 48.8% between 2000 and 2010-2014. Rent burdens among moderate income households earning between 80% and 120% of AMI increased from 8.5% to 26.8%. Rent burdens among very low income households earning less than 50% of AMI increased from 67.8% to 75.4%.

The report calls attention to the widening gap between incomes and rents. Between 2005 and 2014, rents increased by 14.7% city-wide, while the typical renter household’s income increased by 1.7%. In 2015, the city saw a spike in the number of permits issued for multifamily residential buildings, which will result in 51,000 new units. But only 3,000 of these new units have been committed by developers to be affordable under the city’s Inclusionary Housing Program.

The report provides detailed statistics for each SBA, such as the number of new housing units, housing costs, the percentage of households using Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs), and income. These statistics are a valuable resource to help local advocates understand and communicate specifics about their neighborhood conditions and housing needs.

The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2015 is available at