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NYC Apartment Vacancy Falls To 1.4%, Lowest Level In Over 50 Years

New York City has hit another milestone as the city sees high demand and skyrocketing rents: the lowest vacancy rate for rental apartments in more than five decades.


Just 1.4% of the city’s rental housing stock is vacant, according to the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey. By contrast, a healthy housing market often has a vacancy rate of between 5% and 8%, The New York Times reported, with NYC officials classifying a vacancy rate of less than 5% as a housing emergency.

The study, conducted every three years by the Census Bureau and the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, paints a picture of housing availability across the five boroughs.

The survey's 2023 results showed that the vacancy rate is the city’s lowest since 1968. It also marks a sharp decline from the previous study’s results, which found that the vacancy rate was roughly 4.5%.

Around 60,000 homes were added to NYC’s housing stock last year, but the city’s population grew by 275,000 households, the survey found. Just 33,000 apartments were open to renters across the city, City Limits reported.

“The data is clear: The demand to live in our city is far outpacing our ability to build housing,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement Thursday as he announced the numbers, per the NYT. “New Yorkers need our help, and they need it now.”

Low-income tenants are facing a particularly acute scarcity.

Apartments priced at less than $1,100 per month had a vacancy rate of less than 0.4%. The next bracket, apartments priced between $1,100 and $1,649 per month, was also just shy of 1%.

Demand for apartments commanding higher rents also tightened in the last three years. Units with monthly rents of $2,400 and up were 3.4% vacant in 2023, down from the 12.6% that were vacant in 2021.

The report also found that low-income New Yorkers often spend a much higher proportion of their income on rent. Around 86% of households that earned less than $25K per year and didn't receive rental assistance spent more than half of their income on rent.

“The latest data proves what New Yorkers have been experiencing every day — it’s historically difficult to find a place to live, much less affordable housing,” New York Housing Conference Executive Director Rachel Fee said in a statement to Bisnow. “There’s no time to waste.” 

The NYHC would like to see incentives created to encourage housing production, like the now-expired 421-a tax abatement. Gov. Kathy Hochul failed to persuade Albany lawmakers to pass an extension or a replacement in last year’s legislative session, but she plans to ask elected representatives to consider extending the tax break in the upcoming session.