Why Is the Rent Too Damn High in New York, And How Can We Fix The Problem?

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With housing problems for the nearly 100,000 migrants weighting heavily on civic leaders’ minds, the problem of housing for New York City’s rent-paying citizens has quietly been dwarfed. But rents are a growing concern, as they have steadily risen throughout the five boroughs. Meanwhile, a number of vacant office buildings sit unused, affecting the property values of the neighborhoods where they stay neglected. It all raises the question: how is New York’s economic health faring? Greg David is the Director of the Business and Economic Reporting program at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. He appeared on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program to discuss how the Big Apple’s financial outlook affects renters.

“We have fewer people in New York than before the pandemic,” David explained to Berman and Riedel. “Our recovery hasn’t been as strong from the pandemic, and [in] the rest of the country, rents this year stopped rising, while ours continued to rise. So that’s the question we went out to answer, and the answer is… kinda complicated.”

Ultimately, though, David’s answer boils down to two words: supply and demand. “When the pandemic hit, [people] all left all at once, so that helped to depress rents. But, because of that, when people did start to come back to the city… there weren’t the apartments coming on-line that should have because the people weren’t leaving anymore… Landlords really had market power, and that allowed them to start raising the rents.”

As for any plans to convert office buildings to ease the crunch, David offered a less-than-bright horizon in the immediate future. “It’s feasible, but at the moment it can’t happen because there’s a stalemate between (sic) the city and the real estate groups and the progressives in the legislature… so, nothing happened in Albany, there will be some conversions, it’ll take a while, but without legislation, we’re not going to get many conversions.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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