Press Releases

More of New York City’s Low-Income Renters Facing “Extreme” Arrears Over $10,000

May 26th 2021

New York, NY — According to The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2020, there was a dramatic increase in the share of households in “substantial” (owing over $3,000)  or “extreme” arrears (owing over $10,000), based on the rent rolls in a sample of mostly affordable housing properties. Households facing these levels of rental debt are less likely to catch up, according to industry experts, putting them at risk of housing instability and bankruptcy. With federal rental relief making its way to landlords and renters, this newest data suggests many low-income households and owners of buildings that house them are still struggling relative to their positions in 2019. Read The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2020.

Using rent roll data compiled in partnership with the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, the report finds the total accumulated rental arrears owed by tenants of all properties increased by 108.4 percent during the first year of the pandemic, more than doubling the 43 percent increase of the prior year. The share of low-income households facing any rent arrears increased by about 5 percentage points, and the average amount owed by a household in arrears also spiked from $2,073 to $3,435, a 66 percent increase. Households $3,000 or more behind in rent as of February of 2021 owed on average $10,154. These increases are large enough to significantly impact the financial health of New York’s affordable housing developments should they persist. 

More than nine out of ten properties saw an increase in average rental balance per occupied unit, though some parts of the city saw much greater declines in payment rates during the pandemic than others. Within the survey sample, the properties in the Bronx were disproportionately likely to fall into the lowest third of payment rates during the first year of the pandemic. Properties with the largest decline in rent payment rates were also smaller and had a lower share of subsidized units than properties with higher payment rates during the pandemic.

In addition to the original data on rent payment trends, the report published today contains citywide analysis that aggregates information from federal and local data sources about New York City’s demographics, housing market, land use, and neighborhood services. While much of the data predates the pandemic, several metrics reflect the huge impact of COVID-19 on the city: a 28 percent drop in new units permitted, a 25 percent decline in sales volume, and decreases of more than 10 percent in asking rent in large parts of Manhattan. 

The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods report serves as a comprehensive data reference for each of New York’s 59 community districts, with longitudinal and ranking data that paints a rich picture of the unique neighborhoods that make up the city. Users can explore and contextualize neighborhood indicators including demographics about age, race, and ethnicity, population changes over time, changes to the housing stock, housing code violations, mortgage lending and foreclosure rates, housing prices, rents, standardized test performance, public safety data, eviction filing rates, proximity to parks and transit. The profiles are available at The data underlying the profiles are hosted by, made possible through funding from the New York City Council.

The publication on Wednesday marks the 20th edition of the State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods report, and is the first edition to be published exclusively on The report is made possible through generous sponsorship, including from JP Morgan Chase, and Citi. Other sponsorship information is available at

About the NYU Furman Center: The NYU Furman Center advances research and debate on housing, neighborhoods, and urban policy. Established in 1995, it is a joint center of the New York University School of Law and the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. More information can be found at and @FurmanCenterNYU.