The Geography—and New Politics—of Housing in New York City

Thomas J. Waters

The elections on November 6 changed the leadership of two legislative bodies with important sway over New York City’s housing—the U.S. House of Representatives and the New York State Senate.

In the coming year, these legislatures will address many urgent issues. Rent control and stabilization are up for renewal in the state legislature in the spring, and advocates will be pushing to strengthen the laws in several ways. The New York City Housing Authority needs a massive infusion of capital funding from all levels of government to deal with its deteriorated public housing buildings. And the Trump administration has proposed legislation that would sharply raise rents for tenants in public and other federally subsidized housing.

The outcome of these issues will have huge consequences for low-income New Yorkers. More than a third of the city’s 960,000 households with incomes below twice the federal poverty threshold live in rent-regulated housing, and another fifth live in some form of subsidized housing such as public housing, project-based Section 8, or Mitchell-Lama. Different types of housing are concentrated in different neighborhoods, and different combinations of legislatures control different types of housing. We present these maps to help identify which legislators are likely to play key roles as these issues unfold.

These estimates were derived in two different ways. The numbers for owner-occupied, rent-regulated, and unregulated rental housing are all derived from the 2017 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey, which is conducted every three years by the U.S. Census Bureau under contract with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The survey makes it possible to estimate the number of houses or apartments in each of these categories for each of 55 sub-borough areas, roughly equivalent to community districts. We then allocate these estimates into the legislative district in proportion with the total number of dwelling units in the overlap between each sub-borough and each legislative district. We round these estimates to the nearest 1,000.

The numbers for public housing, Mitchell-Lama rentals, and housing subsidized by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development are based on the Community Service Society’s database with addresses and other information about these types of housing. We assign buildings in these categories to legislative district on the basis of address. In a few cases district lines cross through large housing developments, creating ambiguity about the number of apartments to assign to each district, so we have rounded these estimates to the nearest 10.


Housing Type by U.S. Congressional District

Click on a district to see more information. Use the layer selector on the upper left to see different housing stock types.


Housing Type by New York State Senate District


Housing Type by New York State Assembly District


Housing Type by New York City Council District


Political District by Housing Type (Tables)

click on title to download pdf

Public Housing

Rent Regulation

HUD Subsidized Housing

Mitchell-Lama Rental Housing

Unregulated Rental Housing



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