New York has recorded 76,000 eviction filings since the COVID-19 outbreak in March of 2020. Eventually the end of this pandemic moratoria will bring many more. Not all are for nonpayment of rent, with causes including criminal activity and other bad behavior. Some tenants will eventually get long-delayed help from the federal rental-assistance program.
These factors do not detract from the return of the city’s perennial housing wars and a likely low vacancy rate.
Advocates will pressure Mayor-elect Eric Adams to respond by promising to subsidize yet more costly-to-build, cheap-to-rent housing.
The underlying problem remains the fundamental distortion caused by the city’s entrenched rent-stabilization system, which applies to over half of all rental units, more than 1 million apartments.
Tenants in rent-stabilized units have no incentive to move out, even when they no longer need as large an apartment as they occupy. If they’ve retired, they’re insulated from the housing costs that lead their suburban-homeowner counterparts to downsize and make way for younger families.
The turnover story is starkly told in data. Some 23 percent of rent-stabilized tenants first moved in more than 20 years ago; for market-rate tenants, it’s just 7.1 percent. In core Manhattan, more than 35 percent of rent-stabilized tenants moved in more than two decades ago. Market-rate units are more crowded, with 16 percent more occupants. Twice as many rent-stabilized tenants are over 65.