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Low vacancy rate continues to imperil affordable NYC housing

The lead up to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board final vote later this month on rent hikes for stabilized apartments promises to be vocal.

Although the back-and-forth arguments between landlord groups and tenants' advocates were going to be loud and boisterous, anyway, newly released data from the board have supplied new ammunition for the debate.

And that information unquestionably favors the latter. Hard-pressed renters and their legions of supporters from various housing groups will be pointing to vacancy-related data relevant to the city's stabilized housing stock. They will have the chance to do so at several public meetings prior to the RGB's definitive vote on June 26.

What they will zero in on is this: hard empirical evidence from the board's yearly housing supply report showing that the metro's stabilized dwelling stock continues to be "very tight."

That is a conclusion that pro-landlord voices did not want to hear or have repeated multiple times in the weeks preceding the rent-increase vote. A looser and higher-availability housing market is something they much more prefer and have recently spotlighted as a reality that should enable them to materially spike rental rates later this year.

That reality has now been debunked. In fact (and notwithstanding that the city actually gained some stabilized units last year), data indicate persistent severe overcrowding in stabilized apartments across the city. That problem would only be exacerbated by jacking up rents, coupled with landlords' consistent aim of taking more dwellings out of stabilized status.

Reportedly, the city's vacancy rate for stabilized apartments stands at an alarmingly low 3.63 percent.