1996 NYC Housing And Vacancy Survey Again Shows Incomes Down And Rents Up

On February 20, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) released a summary of the initial findings of the 1996 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey, or HVS. The findings on key indicators show that the trends of the last nine years make tenants consistent losers, with incomes falling and rents rising. Among the findings of the 1996 HVS are:


  • The number of vacant for-rent units rose slightly between 1993 and 1996 (by 11,000 units), resulting in a vacancy rate of 4.0%, up from 3.4% in 1993.
  • The vacancy rate for rent-stabilized housing units was 3.6% in 1996, up from 3.4% in 1993.


  • The median income of renter households increased by 5.2%, from $19,005 in 1992 to $20,000 in 1995. After adjusting for inflation, it declined by 2.7%.
  • The median income of rent-stabilized households was $21,600 in 1995, down from $21,789 as the inflation-adjusted median of 1992.
  • The proportion of renter households with incomes below the poverty level increased from 29.9% in 1992 to 32.3% in 1995.


  • The median monthly gross rent, which includes utility payments, increased by 14.3%, from $551 in 1993 to $630 in 1996. Adjusting for inflation (changing 1993 rent to April 1996 dollars), the increase was 6.1%.
  • The median monthly contract rent, which excludes tenant payments for utilities, increased by 18.4%, from $501 in 1993 to $593 in 1996. This was a 9.8% increase after adjusting for inflation. Nine years ago, the median contract rent was $350.
  • The median gross rent-income ratio increased from 30.8% in 1993 to 32.3% in 1996. The widely accepted standard of housing affordability is for tenants to pay 25% of their income; 30% is considered unaffordable.


  • The proportion of renter households that were crowded (more than one person per room) in 1996 was 10.3%, the same rate as in 1993.

Copies of the full summary of the 1996 Housing and Vacancy Survey can be obtained from your Councilmember or downloaded from TenantNet, whose ad appears elsewhere in this issue.