Hungry housing market ravaging New York City tenant’s income


Graphic by Kayla Bugeya

Michael Huertas, Contributor

New York City tenants are experiencing the effects of a recovering rental market as rent has skyrocketed in neighborhoods between Jan. 2021 to Jan. 2022. The median rent for a studio apartment is increasing in correspondence with the demand for housing. In Jan. 2022, the average rent price was $2,825, a 34 percent rise compared to the previous year, according to online-listing site Zumper.

The pandemic devastated the streets and forced businesses to transition to remote work while occupants found themselves vacating the city in search of cheaper rental prices.

In anticipation of the pandemic, the median price of rent reached $2,650 but quickly dropped nearly 14 percent the following year. Median asking rents were 8.2 times higher in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter, according to Nancy Wu an Economist at StreetEasy.

Now a year later, rent prices have resumed and exceeded price expectations reaching an all-time high in select neighborhoods. The Upper West Side, the Financial District, and sections in Brooklyn are among many other neighborhoods that are facing the surge of home inflation.

One-bedroom apartments in the Upper West Side average around $4,289, $3,800 in the Financial District and $4,375 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Neighborhoods bordering Brooklyn and Queens remain economical, but the commute to the University can be lengthy.

Of the 18,867,000 million residents residing in the 2,468,240 million total housing units, 67.4 percent of these homes are rented. 42.9 percent were unregulated or free-market, which means the apartments are not subjected to rent regulations. Free-market landlords have zero limitations on rent offers to prospective habitants.

The exodus of departing residents raised the rates of vacancy in 2021. 93.6 percent of listings were in Manhattan. Low inventory of housing, the large demand to move to the city and the decline of COVID-19 are a handful of reasons to blame for the fluctuation of prices.

NYC offers multiple types of housing, free-market (42.9 percent), rent-stabilized (44.2 percent), and rent-controlled (1.0 percent). The last 11.8 percent were rent-regulated under various types of programs.

The annual adjustments for lease renewals of stabilized apartments are determined by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (NYCRGB) and are protected under the 2021 Apartment & Loft Order #53. For a one-year lease for apartments, the board allows a 0 percent increase for the first 6 months and a 1.5 percent adjustment for the remainder of the lease. A 2-year lease allows a 2.5 percent adjustment.

Tenants are spending the majority of their income on housing and are struggling to maintain a reasonable living.

University junior Isabella Ferrara expressed, “As a renter, this situation stresses me out because the constant increase is not financially feasible and will one day move me out of my apartment. I have looked in other places and it is just as expensive or more for a smaller space.” Ferrara, whose rent has increased in her stabilized unit in Tribeca.

NYC occupants aren’t the only ones devastated by rent prices. These top six cities saw the biggest year-to-year increase: Gilbert, AZ; Orlando, FL; Huntington Beach, CA; Jersey City, NJ; Irvine, CA and Birmingham, AL.

The Empire City nearly doubles the nationwide average as low-income residents are concerned over escalating prices across the nation. One and two-bedroom rents were up 22.6 percent and 20.4 percent, reported by

Young residents in their 20s and 30s are entering the five boroughs in high capacity and outpacing slowed housing construction. Low-income residents that want to leave the city are struggling to find affordable housing beyond the Hudson.

While the market gets more competitive, landlords promoting discount housing are getting harder to find. Renters are left compromising for lower monthly payments or sent searching for accommodations elsewhere.

StreetEasy is a widely recommended and very reliable website for apartment listings and is the leading platform that specializes in NYC Apartments. r/NYCApartments is a great subreddit to search for apartment listings, sublet offers, and important advice. Reddit offers tags in its search options to streamline search results. Though risky and outdated, Craigslist is an underrated webpage to search for cheap apartments and sublet offers. Beware of scams and unrealistic offers. If it is too good to be true, it probably is!

University junior Eli Chazin moved into a free-market apartment and voiced, “I have searched around the market for new apartments but moving costs the same or more! I feel frustrated for the other students and residents who cannot afford this insane rent increase. I hope we can fix this problem before it goes too far.”

City-folks are calling for relaxed zoning because the strict zoning laws are causing less housing construction. In 2020, NYC approved the least amount of housing than its surrounding cities. Permits for housing approvals were halted but are getting back on track as the pandemic continues.