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Housing and Vacancy Survey


Summary Findings of the 1999 New York City
Housing and Vacancy Survey

Caution: The 1999 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey (NYCHVS) housing unit and population counts were derived using a new weighting methodology and thus are not completely comparable to data from the 1996 and 1993 surveys. Therefore, data users should use caution in comparing 1999 data with existing data from the earlier surveys. The 1999 NYCHVS longitudinal micro data file include reweighted 1996 and 1993 data based on the new methodology that can be used to make comparisons between surveys.

As a final step in the weighting of the NYCHVS, factors are applied to the survey estimates of population and housing units to adjust for missed units and missed people in units. These factors are developed by controlling survey estimates to independently derived estimates of population and housing. In March 1991, a Census 2000 project: 1) reviewed 1990 housing unit estimates; 2) reviewed administrative records related to the housing stock; and 3) began research and development on methods to improve population and housing unit control estimates. A new methodology was developed and implemented that integrated housing and population estimates. This new methodology was introduced for the 1999 NYCHVS for the first time.

For the 1996 and 1993 NYCHVS, data were originally weighted the 'old ' way-meaning that population and housing controls were derived independently of each other. We will reweight the 1996 and 1993 data using the new methodology for the 1999 longitudinal micro data file. An explanation of the new methodology will be included with the documentation for that file. The 1991 NYCHVS will not be reweighted. Since that survey began less than a year after the 1990 census, using the new methodology is not expected to produce significant differences in housing unit and population counts.

Rental vacancy rates for each of the five boroughs in New York City will not change for either 1996 or 1993 as a result of the reweighting. Changes are possible in the city-wide rental vacancy rate with the reweighting because revised borough housing unit estimates could alter the relative impact each borough has on the calculation of the city-wide rate. However, when carried out to thousandths (0.000), the 1993 rental vacancy rate did not change while the 1996 rate changed only slightly from 4.008 percent to 4.003 percent. While housing and population estimates will change when existing data are reweighted, comparison of most characteristics (percentage based) reveal no statistically significant differences.

  1. Housing Inventory

    1. The number of housing units in New York City increased by 44,000 units, from 2,995,000 in 1996 to 3,039,000 in 1999. The number of rental units was 2,018,000, comprising 66 percent of the housing stock, in 1999 (Table 1).

    2. Vacant units, both rental and owner, decreased substantially between 1996 and 1999: vacant units available for rent decreased by 21 percent, from 81,000 to 64,000; vacant units available for sale decreased by 28 percent, from 24,000 to 17,000. At the same time, the number of vacant units not available for sale or rent decreased substantially by 19 percent, from 110,000 in 1996 to 89,000 in 1999 (Table 1).

    3. Rent controlled units numbered 53,000, or 2.7 percent of the occupied rental stock in 1999. The number of rent controlled units declined by 18,000, or by 26 percent, from 71,000 units in 1996 (Table 2).

    4. There were 1,046,000 rent stabilized units (occupied and vacant), comprising 52 percent of the rental stock in 1999. This number is little changed from 1996, when it was 1,052,000 (Table 2).

  2. Vacancies

    1. The 1999 HVS reports a citywide decrease of 17,000 vacant-for-rent units, lowering the vacancy rate for units available for rent in the City during the period between February and May of 1999 to 3.19 percent, down from 4.01 percent during a similar period in 1996. The 1999 vacancy rate is significantly lower than 5 percent and, thus, meets the legal definition of a housing emergency in the City. (Table 3)

    2. Between 1996 and 1999, the rental vacancy rate declined in all boroughs, except Staten Island. The rate in the Bronx decreased from 5.43 percent to 5.04 percent; in Brooklyn, it dropped from 4.20 percent to 3.26 percent; in Manhattan, it fell from 3.47 percent to 2.57 percent; and, in Queens, it declined from 3.28 percent to 2.11 percent. On the other hand, the rate increased significantly in Staten Island from 4.17 percent to 5.82 percent (Table 3).

    3. The vacancy rate for rent stabilized units was 2.46 percent in 1999, a substantial decline from 1996, when it was 3.57 percent (Table 4).

    4. The vacancy rate for low-rent units decreased considerably between 1996 and 1999. The vacancy rate in 1999 for units with asking rents of less than $400 was 1.26 percent, down from the 1996 vacancy rate of 3.21 percent, using inflation-adjusted asking rents (changing 1996 rents into April 1999 dollars). The vacancy rate for units with a monthly asking rent level of $400-$499 fell from 3.31 percent to 2.53 percent. The rate for units in the $500-$599 level decreased from 3.89 percent to 2.86 percent (Table 5).

    5. The vacancy rate for asking rents between $600 and $699 also decreased considerably from 4.58 percent in 1996 to 3.44 percent in 1999, while the rate for units with asking rents in the $700-$799 level did not change much in the three-year period. However, as the citywide rental vacancy rate declined during the period, vacancy rates for the next two higher levels of asking rent also declined markedly. The rate decreased from 5.52 percent to 3.75 percent for the $800-$899 level and from 4.06 percent to 2.74 percent for the $900-$999 level (Table 5).

    6. The rental vacancy rates for the two higher levels of asking rents between $1,000 and $1,749 remained stable, while the rate for the highest rent level, $1,750 and over, increased significantly, from 3.40 percent in 1996 to 5.70 percent in 1999 (Table 5).

    7. The number of vacant units not available for sale or rent was 89,000 in 1999, a significant decline from 1996, when it was 110,000. Of these, the number undergoing or awaiting renovation was 32,000, or 36 percent of the total number of unavailable units, relatively stable since 1996, when it was 31,000. On the other hand, the number of unavailable units in the category of occasional, seasonal, or recreational use declined substantially by 48 percent, from 33,000 to 17,000, during the same three-year period. Of units in this category, 63 percent were in cooperative or condominium buildings; about 80 percent of these units in cooperative or condominium buildings were located in Manhattan (Table 6).

  3. Incomes

    (Note that incomes are reported for 1998, while housing data are for 1999.)

    1. The median income for all households (renters and owners combined) increased considerably from $29,600 to $33,000, or by 11.5 percent, between 1995 and 1998. The inflation-adjusted median income (changing 1995 dollars into 1998 dollars) for all households increased by 4.2 percent during the three-year period (Table 7).

    2. The median income of renter households increased by 8.8 percent, from $23,892 in 1995 to $26,000 in 1998. However, after adjusting for inflation, the median income of renter households increased slightly by 1.7 percent (Table 7).

    3. The median income of homeowners was $53,000 in 1998, a 9.1-percent increase over 1995, when it was $48,562. After adjusting for inflation, however, the median income of homeowners increased by just 2.0 percent (Table 7).

    4. The median income of rent controlled households was $17,000 in 1998. This median income increased by 18.3 percent from the inflation-adjusted median income in 1995 (Table 8).

    5. The median income of rent stabilized households was $27,000 in 1998, about the same as their inflation-adjusted median income in 1995 (Table 8).

    6. The median income of renter households in pre-1947 rent stabilized units was $25,600 in 1998, almost the same as their inflation-adjusted income in 1995. On the other hand, the 1998 median income of renter households in post-1947 rent stabilized units was $30,400, an inflation-adjusted decrease of 6.9 percent since 1995 (Table 8).

    7. The proportion of renter households with incomes below the poverty level dropped noticeably from 26.3 percent in 1995 to 24.5 percent in 1998 (Table 9).

  4. Rents

    1. The median monthly gross rent, which includes fuel and utility payments, increased by 9.4 percent, from $640 in 1996 to $700 in 1999. However, the inflation-adjusted increase in median gross rent (changing 1996 rent into April 1999 dollars) was 3.1 percent (Table 10).

    2. The median monthly contract rent, which excludes tenant payments for fuel and utilities, increased by 8.0 percent, from $600 in 1996 to $648 in 1999. This was a 1.9-percent increase, after adjusting for inflation (Table 10).

    3. The number of low-rent units declined and the number of high-rent units increased noticeably between 1996 and 1999. In April 1999 dollars, the number of units with monthly gross rents of less than $400 declined by 6.5 percent; at the same time, the number of units with monthly gross rents between $400 and $599 decreased by 10.6 percent (Table 11).

    4. On the other hand, the number of units with monthly gross rents of $1,000 or more increased by 16.5 percent, while the number of units with monthly gross rents of $1,750 or more increased by 34.0 percent (Table 11).

    5. The median gross rent-income ratio fell from 30.0 percent in 1996 to 29.2 percent in 1999 (Table 12)

  5. Housing and Neighborhood Condition

    Housing and neighborhood condition in the City measured by the HVS improved markedly between 1996 and 1999. Moreover, these conditions in 1999 were the best since the HVS started covering them.

    1. Building condition improved considerably.

      The percent of renter-occupied units in dilapidated buildings was just 1.0 percent in 1999, a further improvement over 1996, when the dilapidation rate was 1.3 percent. The 1999 rate was the lowest in the 35-year period since the first HVS in 1965 (Table 13).

    2. Housing maintenance condition improved substantially.

      1. The proportion of renter-occupied units with no maintenance deficiencies increased from 42.1 percent in 1996 to 45.5 percent in 1999 (Table 13).

      2. The proportion of renter-occupied units with no heating breakdowns rose from 80.4 percent in 1996 to 83.7 percent in 1999 (Table 13).

    3. Neighborhood quality improved greatly.

      1. The proportion of renter households near buildings with broken or boarded-up windows on the street declined significantly from 11.4 percent in 1996 to 8.8 percent in 1999 (Table 13).

      2. The proportion of renter households that rated the quality of their neighborhood residential structures as "good" or "excellent" increased substantially from 63.9 percent to 68.6 percent between 1996 and 1999 (Table 13).

  6. Crowding

    The crowding situation became somewhat more serious in 1999, compared to 1996. The proportion of renter households that were crowded (more than one person per room) in 1999 was 11.0 percent, a slight increase over 1996, when the crowding rate was 10.3 percent (Table 14).

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