This week, the NYU Furman Center of Real Estate and Urban Policy released a new report as part of the Center’s ongoing work examining gentrification. The report, titled “Gentrification Responses: A Survey of Strategies to Maintain Neighborhood Economic Diversity,” details the measures that 11 major metropolitan areas in the United States have sought to mitigate the loss of their affordable housing.
According to an earlier report, the total number of renters has gone up in each of the 11 metro areas between 2006 and 2014. In New York, the number of renters rose dramatically, by around 900,000 people.
But it is evident that the supply is not meeting this increase in demand. In New York, though tenant numbers swelled by 14 percent during the study period, the availability of rental housing only went up by 11 percent.
With supply low and demand high, it’s no wonder that affordability has taken a hit. In 2006, only 24 percent of units in New York were affordable to someone who made the median income. By 2014, that number had fallen even further, to 22 percent.
At they citywide level, the numbers don’t seem remarkable, but some neighborhoods—like Bushwick—have seen rents increase much more than the average.
This week’s report is an analysis of how cities are working to bring affordability numbers back up, so that cities can continue to be vibrant places where people from all across the socioeconomic spectrum can live, work and thrive.
Rent stabilization policies are one of the approaches to increasing affordability that New Yorkers are most familiar with. However, units which have been rent stabilized for decades do not always end up in the hands of people who also have a lower income. Most rent stabilization provisions across the country also have an expiration date.
One of the more innovative solutions comes in the form of a restrictive covenant, which is a deed clause that dictates terms of land use on pieces of land sold by the city to developers. Restrictive covenants can be used to make affordable housing a condition of the sale of land, as long as a provision like that is enforced.
The authors of the report conclude that “much work remains to be done to determine whether, in what conditions, and in what combination, the above explored possibilities have the largest impact with the fewest unintended consequences.”
But as urban centers in the United States continue to grow, reports like this one will continue to be vitally important.
Featured image: Manhattan from the Empire State Building by Dietmar Rabich. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.