Economic Challenge for the Rent Guidelines Board
Rent stabilized apartments account for nearly half of all rental units in New York City and are a vital source of relatively low-cost rental housing. New Yorkers who live in rent stabilized apartments pay a lower median rent and have a lower median income than households in unregulated apartments, but are also more likely to experience maintenance deficiencies. The responsibility for overseeing the economic viability and affordability of this important housing stock rests with the nine-member Rent Guidelines Board (RGB), which sets annual rent adjustments for rent stabilized apartments. Given the importance of the rent stabilized apartment stock, it is essential to think hard about how to preserve both its quality and quantity.
Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act: An Initial Analysis of Short-Term Trends
On June 11th, 2019, the New York State Legislature enacted the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA). Three days later, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the act into law, making most of the law’s provisions effective immediately on June 14th, 2019. HSTPA made significant changes to the state’s rent stabilization system and expanded protections for New York State renters. The primary purpose of the legislation was to limit the size of rent increases and to prevent rent increases from leading to the deregulation of rent stabilized apartments. While many applauded the reforms as a tool to protect housing affordability and stability for renters, others contended that the law changes would lead to disinvestment in multifamily housing, decrease the tax base for the city, and result in a long-term decline in the quality and safety of housing. In an effort to contribute information about the impact of the rent law changes, this brief describes the changes in a few key housing indicators after HSTPA and, given that most of these predicted effects would likely take years to materialize, identifies future areas for research.
Rent Regulation for the 21st Century: Pairing Anti-Gouging with Targeted Subsidies
Rent regulation is designed to protect low-income renters against sudden rent increases that threaten their housing stability. However, market distortions and the lack of means testing or targeting limit the effectiveness of many rent regulation systems. This policy brief outlines an approach combining anti-gouging regulations with shallow, targeted subsidies to maximize the benefits of rent regulation for low-income households.
COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance: Analysis of a National Survey of Programs
The report examines program decisions against outcome metrics, such as a ratio of actual number of applicants to expected number of applicants and funds obligated as a share of total program funds. A survey launched in August 2020, and ran through October 2020, collecting information from program administrators, many of whom provided follow-up responses to requests for outcome data in December 2020 and January 2021.
Through the Roof: What Communities Can Do About the High Cost of Rental Housing in America
Housing affordability continues to be a major concern for residents across the country. In this report, the authors look at what local governments can do to mitigate rising costs of rental housing in the U.S. The report reviews the root causes of high rent burdens and the consequences, including the impact of housing choice vouchers and modest increases in income. It also discusses why housing costs rise, looking more closely at housing markets and the factors that contribute to rising rent burdens. The report then reviews government policy responses at the local, state, and federal level before laying out a framework that municipalities can use to help provide citizens affordable housing options. It serves as a helpful tool for local officials considering new housing strategies or those interesting in improving existing policies.
A Renter Safety Net: A Call for Federal Emergency Rental Assistance
For decades, escalating housing costs have outpaced income growth for middle- and lower-income earners. As a result, millions of American households struggle to accumulate a savings buffer with the little income they have leftover after paying rent, and are therefore left vulnerable to evictions or forced moves when unexpected financial shocks occur. In this chapter, authors Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Faculty Director of the NYU Furman Center, Amy Ganz, Deputy Director of the Economic Strategy Group, and Katherine O’Regan, Professor of Public Policy and Planning at NYU Wagner and Faculty Director of the NYU Furman Center, document the costly externalities that such housing instability poses and propose the creation of a Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program to provide one-time, short-term financial help to low-income renters who face unexpected financial shocks.
The Challenges of Balancing Rent Stability, Fair Return, and Predictability under New York’s Rent Stabilization System
This brief lays out some of the challenges of balancing affordability and a reasonable rate of return; explains how New York City’s local governing body (the Rent Guidelines Board) incorporates building operating cost data to make rent adjustments; scans approaches used in other jurisdictions; and explores the potential consequences of eliminating rent increase mechanisms designed to be supportive of investment in repairing and improving the housing stock.
Laboratories of Regulation: Understanding the Diversity of Rent Regulation Laws
Debates about rent regulation are not known for their nuance. The world tends to divide into fierce opponents and strong supporters. Moreover, debates rarely engage with the details of local ordinances, even though those details may significantly affect outcomes for tenants, landlords, and broader housing markets. This paper catalogs the multiplicity of choices that local policymakers must make in enacting and implementing rent regulation ordinances and consider the implications those choices may have for tenant protections and broader market outcomes. This paper then highlights the wide variety of regimes that jurisdictions with rent regulation have adopted in practice. It ends with a call for new empirical research to study the effects of different regulatory features.
Gentrification Responses: A Survey of Strategies to Maintain Neighborhood Economic Diversity
This report examines strategies used by local governments to address rising housing costs and displacement of low-income households in gentrifying neighborhoods. To assist tenants at risk of displacement, the report details strategies to regulate the landlord/tenant relationship well as strategies to provide assistance for households that move. To create and preserve affordable housing, the report explores ways to use city-owned land and other resources strategically to promote affordable housing in areas where costs are on the rise. It also examines ways to harness the market, such as inclusionary zoning and linkage fees. The report is part of an ongoing series of work by the NYU Furman Center on gentrification, but is the first to provide an overview of policy responses to the effects rapidly rising rents.
The Challenge of Rising Rents: Exploring Whether a New Tax Benefit Could Help Keep Unsubsidized Rental Units Affordable
The bulk of New York City’s housing stock that is affordable to low-income households is in multifamily buildings that receive no government subsidy to maintain low rents. Therefore, rising rents threaten the future affordability of this critical source of low-rent housing. The report considers whether the city could offer a benefit to protect affordability in this stock, and examines the feasibility of such a program for building owners and the city. The policy brief is third in the five-part series, Housing for an Inclusive New York: Affordable Housing Strategies for a High-Cost City. See the press release or read the key findings.