Rents too damn high -

From NY Times -

Jersey City is sometimes called the sixth borough of New York City. But right now, it can claim to be first: As of June, it was the most expensive city in which to rent a home in the United States, topping famously expensive metros like San Francisco and Miami with an average rent of $5,500, according to a report by the listing portal Rent.

Rental prices have surged across the United States during the pandemic, spurred by a spike in inflation and a wave of tenants moving farther from their urban offices as they settle into remote work, said Jon Leckie, a researcher at Rent. According to the report, the priciest areas for renters comprised a mix of tech hubs, big cities, and feeder markets for larger metros: Just behind Jersey City was Boston ($4,878) and the Silicon Valley hub of Palo Alto, Calif. ($4,672). Then came the Los Angeles satellites of Glendale, Calif. ($4,472), and Santa Monica, Calif. ($4,357), followed by the Miami suburb of Coral Gables, Fla. ($4,310), Hoboken, N.J. ($4,264), and the Seattle suburb of Redmond, Wash. ($4,222).

Much of the migration has been fairly local, as renters become more comfortable with longer but less frequent commutes, Mr. Leckie said. “They stay regional,” he said of movers. “Jersey City is a proxy for New York City in a lot of ways.”

Researchers compared rents for one- and two-bedroom listings in June against the average rents in June 2021. (Mr. Leckie said the firm did not have enough listing data in New York City to make an accurate calculation. According to a report by the brokerage Douglas Elliman, the average monthly rent in Manhattan was over $5,000 in June 2022.) Among the top 100 cities, Jersey City saw the third highest year-over-year rent increase, up 66 percent from June 2021, when the average rate was $3,308.

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Sounds like a reason to remove height limits, FAR limits, and take other measures to encourage housing. Lots of housing, fast. Other cities in the area should do the same (if they have such limits.)

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I don’t really think any of those aforementioned items are reason for rental prices skyrocketing in the city. There is some housing in NYC that has gone unrented because it is not affordable, even those that promote themselves as being affordable housing. (NY Housing Lottery shouldn’t even be a thing). But there is not enough to keep up with demand.

Rents are skyrocketing because landlords are being greedy and raising prices past 2019 levels from during the height of the pandemic when they were giving large rental discounts to renters, in which they obviously ended up losing money from, in addition to the mass of people that left the city during the pandemic. I recall during the height of the pandemic and early 2021, I saw *luxury" apartment rents as cheap as $1200, that are now $6000.

As far as any of the regulatory items you mentioned, height limits and FAR doesn’t really have any involvement in rentals being expensive or not, it’s the developer and landlords decision to make the prices. If apartment buildings are built that aren’t affordable if those things were changed it wouldn’t make a difference and then there would be even more empty apartments on the market because demand is so high but people can’t afford to rent them.

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So why don’t they lower the rents? If there are so many empty apartments eventually they’re going to realise that no one is moving in at their prices right?

It’s a whole deal of supply and demand and the fact that rent controlled apartments in the city mess up the system for everyone else looking for apartments because it reduces the amount of affordable housing in the city. There is a disequilibrium in the supply and demand because so many people are coming back to the city now that landlords see that they are willing to spend whatever they will to live there but there isn’t enough housing that isn’t too expensive and/or in good condition that people want to rent.

Some landlords will have to decrease rents to make ends meet with their own bills, but the lack of available potential renters also comes from the cities 40x “law” (though not actually a law) in which a person needs to make 40x the rent, which would amount to a person needing to make $200,000 a year based on new average rent figures when the average person in NYC only makes $70K.

Dont really agree with this. Landlords are raising prices because demand is high. It doesn’t really make any sense whatsoever financially to increase rent to the point your apartment isnt renting.

I agree with this, that is why I mentioned it being a supply and demand issue in my latter post, but I’m just getting that information from reading various articles that are all saying different things, so it may be incorrect, but there are some instances around the city where this is occurring.

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Some rents are set into the mortgage contract. If a landlord can’t get that rent and want to rent at a lower price, they have to pay down part of the principal to satisfy the mortgage contract. This is why you will see storefronts etc sitting vacant for years.

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That study is total garbage. They didn’t have enough listings data to get rent averages for NYC? It’s the market with the most rental apartments in the US…it’s 30 times the size of Jersey City. Also it seems weird because rent.com released rent averages for specific NYC neighborhoods 3 months ago. And just last month, they did include NYC in their average, but not this month: https://www.rent.com/research/rent-report-june-2022/
How did they have enough listings in June, but not in July? Did all the listings disappear, or were they irresponsibly reporting numbers that shouldn’t have been reported a month ago? And if so, why should we trust their numbers now?

The average rents reported seem skewed toward whatever particular buildings decide to list their rentals on rent.com. And frankly, it’s not a very popular rental site in the NYC area…not many apartments listed there, and surprise surprise, they mostly tend to be from new rental buildings with doormen and elevators.

The federal department of Housing and Urban Development says Jersey City’s fair-market rent for a 1-bedroom is $1,972 per month while SF’s is $3,198 per month. To claim Jersey City has higher rent than San Francisco is just absurd. There are 145 apartments listed for rent for less than $2,000 in SF right now. In JC, which is 1/3 the size, 262 apartments listed for rent for less than $2,000. The ‘study’ also claims Yonkers and Chicago are more expensive than DC.

All around, really sloppy work.

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I’ve seen an average of $5000 recently across most articles and sources for NYC.

Average rent in NYC is nowhere near $5,000 though. That data is, again, heavily skewed toward new buildings. Here are some good articles on how most of these headline-grabbing rent ‘studies’ are bogus:

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That’s interesting, but I also came to the conclusion that the average rent was around $5000 by looking through streeteasy because not “all” of the apartments within the $5000 range are new and there also just seemed to be a longer list of apartments within that range, particularly a 1bd because that’s what all the studies are basing their numbers off of.

But I’ll agree with you in that fact that it seems like a lot of studies are not including the full spectrum of apartments (older and new) up for rent within the city and therefore may be making the information not a transparent as it could be.

There are 8,461 rental listings on Zillow right now in NYC. 4,250, more than half, are below $3,050 per month. And that’s skewed up because a lot of cheaper rentals aren’t listed, and of course apartments that are occupied aren’t listed. In no way, shape, or form is the median apartment in NYC $5k per month.

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Hmm, fair point, and good observation. But I’d still say that it’s undeniable that rents have gone up.

The title should be

Inflation | Everything is too damn high | What the fuck

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It will get worse before it gets better. I went through this in the 1970’s.

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Warning this is long from NY Times -
A half a century ago, city planners warned that New York had the potential to swell into a “monster city” of 55 million people. To avoid this fate, the city passed a major overhaul of zoning rules in 1961, limiting the size of buildings and how many people could live in them.

Now, a longstanding housing shortage, partly fueled by those old constraints, is inflaming a crisis in affordability.

It may feel counterintuitive that the largest city in America has a housing shortage. Cranes and construction crews appear to be constantly in motion, stacking together new residential apartment buildings, condos and tall skyscrapers.

But the problems reflect a national phenomenon and are further fueled by the popularity of New York City itself. More people want to live here than the city can accommodate, driving up prices for the housing that is available.

The New York metropolitan area needed more than 340,000 additional homes in 2019, according to a May analysis by Up For Growth, a Washington policy and research group. The city has issued fewer building permits per resident over most of the past decade than Boston, Austin and San Francisco, according to a study from the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonprofit research group. And new housing is not keeping up with new job growth.

At the same time, the number of homes that rent at less than $1,500 is shrinking, and the median rent on Manhattan apartments newly leased in June reached a staggering $4,000, the real estate firm Douglas Elliman reported.

There are numerous barriers to increasing the supply of housing to meet the demand, including:

● Zoning restrictions that limit the size of buildings and enable many neighborhoods to all but shut out new development;

● The cost of building, and particularly the cost of subsidizing and supporting affordable homes;

● The inability of state and local politicians to agree on meaningful solutions.

Not everyone agrees that making it easier to build more homes is a panacea. Some housing advocates say government officials should also prioritize rent controls and public housing to make living here more affordable.

Most everyone, however, agrees that without some intervention, the situation could grow even more dire as the city tries to recover from the pandemic, exacerbating homelessness, making it difficult for businesses to retain workers and squeezing out poorer residents.

“I’m usually a pretty optimistic person,” said Vicki L. Been, a former deputy mayor for housing and economic development under the former mayor, Bill de Blasio who supports making it easier to build housing. “I would describe myself as very concerned.”

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Cynthia Reel, of Washington Heights, in Manhattan, worries rising rents may force her out of New York City.Credit…Amir Hamja for The New York Times

Cynthia Reel, 66, is one of the thousands of renters worried about the increasing cost of living. In March, she moved from the Upper West Side to a cheaper apartment a few blocks north of the George Washington Bridge. But at $2,000 a month, even that feels difficult to manage, especially if she gets hit with a rent increase when her lease renews next year.

If the increase is “ridiculous,” she may move to New Jersey, she said, “although I don’t want to do that.”

An invisible web of constraints

At the center of the problem is zoning.

The rules put in place in 1961 preserved a lower-density, suburban feel throughout vast swaths of the city, essentially making it illegal to build anything other than one- or two-family homes in many areas, said Jason Barr, an economics professor at Rutgers University-Newark who has written about the history of zoning.

Within years, the rules prompted worries they might create a housing shortage.

The city, grappling with crime and financial difficulties, lost population in the 1970s, dropping from about 7.9 million in 1970 to about 7.1 million in 1980. But it rebounded and reached 7.3 million in 1990 and more than 8 million in 2000.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he undertook a huge reshaping of the city, to help it recover and boost its economy and population. And while the plan made way for higher density development and opened many of the city’s waterfront areas for residential uses, some of his efforts placed limits on new housing.

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Credit…Amir Hamja for The New York Times

Between 2003 and 2007, the Bloomberg administration rezoned nearly one-fifth of the city, according to a 2010 study by the New York University Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. But nearly 90 percent of the lots analyzed in the study had their capacity reduced or only modestly increased.

At the same time, New Yorkers who didn’t want their neighborhoods to change increasingly found ways to slow down projects.

Evolving rules over zoning enabled individuals and neighborhood groups to file lawsuits against projects they didn’t like. Now, developers often will not propose a project at all if they sense they will face significant opposition, said Kirk Goodrich, the president of Monadnock Development.

Even when they do propose a project, the path can be rocky: A recent project in Harlem that could have contained more than 900 new homes was recently withdrawn after the opposition of the local council member. Council members have opposed two other projects — one in Astoria in Queens and another in Throgs Neck in the Bronx — that would add more than 3,000 units of housing, including some 800 that would rent below market rate.

An effort to rezone parts of the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn, which was approved in 2021 and includes a Monadnock project, took more than a decade, in part because of political fights. The time taken up by these battles, Mr. Goodrich said, “doesn’t allow us to deliver housing of scale in a time frame that has enabled us to alleviate the shortage.”

The cost of building is also high, and increasing every year, according to the Citizens Budget Commission study. Interest rates, which are rising to combat inflation, threaten to make development even more expensive.

Even without inflation, unique provisions in New York City’s building code, plumbing code and electrical code drive up the cost of development, according to the study.

A political quagmire blocking solutions

State and local officials have so far not been able to agree on meaningful solutions.

State lawmakers this year considered and failed to pass at least four different measures to boost the supply of housing in and around the city: Bills that would have made it easier to build apartment buildings around mass transit and that would allow cities to legalize basement and garage homes died after opposition from lawmakers representing New York City suburbs.

A bill that would have removed a state cap on residential building size also died in the Legislature.

And lawmakers let a contentious tax break that helped finance the development of big new apartment buildings, known as 421-a, expire without replacing or reforming it.

The city and state have also long failed to retool the uneven underlying tax system that puts more of a burden on big apartment buildings than on smaller properties.

Mayor Eric Adams has promised to make it easier to build in New York City, for example, by eliminating or relaxing some requirements that new buildings provide parking spaces for residents, and streamlining the building code.

But the changes, which are slated to be introduced in early 2024, may face fierce political opposition.

“More people than ever before got hit by the housing crisis over the course of the pandemic,” said Jessica Katz, the city’s chief housing officer. “We are hoping that we can build a coalition around that.”

Yvonne Stennett, executive director of the Community League of the Heights, a community development group in Washington Heights, says the city should be pushing for more projects like a 174-unit affordable housing development in Inwood that her group is involved with, made possible after a neighborhood rezoning and public and private subsidies.

Across the city, zoning rules often help New Yorkers who want to block development to keep their neighborhoods from changing.Credit…Amir Hamja for The New York Times

Across the city, zoning rules often help New Yorkers who want to block development to keep their neighborhoods from changing.

Building and preserving affordable homes requires a vast amount of public investment to subsidize below-market rents. While Mr. Adams has pledged to spend $22 billion over 10 years on affordable housing — a historically high number — his administration has not set specific housing production targets, and housing advocates fear the investment may not go far enough.

To some, the housing supply problems are overstated.

Samuel Stein, a senior policy analyst at the Community Service Society, an anti-poverty nonprofit group, said other factors, like investors seeking higher profits from housing, also fuel the affordability problems.

He said lawmakers should prioritize measures that would curtail exorbitant rent increases, like the “good cause eviction” bill that also failed in the State Legislature, and channel public investments into projects that benefit the lowest-income New Yorkers.

A precarious future

As solutions remain stalled, affordability problems are forcing New Yorkers to make difficult decisions about where to live that could change the nature of the city.

Many New Yorkers wonder if middle- and lower-income people can continue to make a home here. Ms. Stennett said that many longtime residents in her neighborhood, long a largely working-class area, have been “pushed out,” as wealthier people moved in.

“This city is becoming so rich — who can afford some of this stuff?” Ms. Stennett said. “How is a newly married couple supposed to do that? How is a student coming out of college supposed to do that? How is a family that is on public assistance ever expected to get off of public assistance?”

Taylor Sicko, 25, used to commute from a Brooklyn apartment where she lived with roommates to Midtown Manhattan, until she lost her job during the pandemic and could no longer afford her $1,300 monthly rent. Ms. Sicko took an online quiz about where to live and decided to book a flight in late 2020 to Denver, a city she had never visited.

Almost two years later, Ms. Sicko, is still living there, with a new car and her own apartment and no plans to leave any time soon. And she would not have to: Her new job is a fully remote role with a legal tech company based in New York.

“I find myself missing New York very rarely,” Ms. Sicko said.

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