A new Community Service Society (CSS) report highlights rising housing insecurity among renters, with more and more New Yorkers pushed “closer to the edge” of eviction and homelessness. Insecurity takes different forms across housing types. Affordability is a particular challenge for the growing number of low-income renters in unregulated units, due to the deregulation of rent regulated units and the continued erosion of housing subsidies. Rent-stabilized tenants are vulnerable to harassment, while public housing tenants are facing the danger of “demolition by neglect” as a result of underfunding.
Tenants at the Edge: Rising insecurity among renters in New York City, finds that even though the city’s population has grown over the last 15+ years, the number of low-income households has stayed at about the same level. However, the number of homeless households has tripled.
The report explores the complexity of housing insecurity. Limited rainy-day savings create an additional obstacle for low-income renters. Many are both unable to bear any rent increases or to find another apartment they can afford. Households with children, particularly black and Latina single mothers, are particularly vulnerable.
The city’s growing housing crisis requires bold, pro-tenant policy solutions. With the rent regulated housing stock in focus today as the Rent Guidelines Board votes on preliminary rent guidelines for approximately one million stabilized apartments, the report recommends strengthening the state’s rent laws.
“Loopholes in our rent laws are contributing to the city’s affordable housing crisis by allowing unscrupulous landlords and real estate speculators to pressure tenants into moving out of their apartments and then jack up rents during the vacancy,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society. “To address insecurity among rent-regulated tenants, the state should repeal high rent vacancy deregulation and the vacancy bonus, and reform the preferential rent provision.”
The report also finds widespread public support for a rental assistance program for low-income New Yorkers as an anti-eviction and anti-homelessness strategy and calls for a restoration of decent living conditions in public housing.
Tenants at the Edge: Rising insecurity among renters in New York City was co-authored by CSS housing policy experts Oksana Mironova and Victor Bach. It is available online at www.cssny.org.