Sky-high Rents

Rent stabilization not only helps families save money, it also prevents them from becoming rent-burdened, which limits their ability to afford food, transportation, and other essential needs.

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Do you spend more than 30% of your income on rent? If you do, you can consider yourself rent-burdened. And you are not alone. Almost half of all renters across the country spend this amount, which limits their ability to afford food, transportation, healthcare, and increases their risk of losing their homes. As the housing crisis worsens, city governments are considering the implementation of rent stabilization to prevent rent payment trouble.

In New York City, almost half of all rental units are rent stabilized. This means that a landlord can only increase rent by a percentage determined by the Rent Guidelines Board. Opponents of rent stabilization policies note that these policies do not consider tenant income level, apartment size, number of residents, or other needs-related factors. They argue that it is unclear if people who need these polices are the ones benefiting from them.

This motivated Kasey Zapatka and Juliana de Castro Galvao to evaluate who benefits from rent stabilization in New York City. These researchers wanted to know if implementing these policies allows renters to save money over time and if these policies reduce the proportion of rent-burdened households across New York’s five boroughs.

Across the city, apartments that were rent-stabilized were cheaper than non-stabilized comparisons, with Manhattan showing the greatest difference. Each graph shows differences in rent prices for each borough after adjusting for inflation.

Latino and foreign-born families were most likely to live in rent-stabilized apartments. They benefited from reduced rent prices and increased their likelihood of saving money. Consequently, rent stabilization also reduced their likelihood of becoming rent-burdened.

The authors note that the benefits of rent stabilization go beyond saving money. These policies reduce chances of eviction, displacement, and gentrification, and improve tenants’ quality of life.

Databyte via Kasey Zapatka and Juliana de Castro Galvao, Affordable Regulation: New York City Rent Stabilization as Housing Affordability Policy. City & Community, 2022.