When it comes to housing, New York is a literally a tale of two cities.
About half of the luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold. Meanwhile, 80,000 people sleep in New York City’s shelters or in makeshift shelters on the streets. Many of the sleek glass and steel condo high rises were intended for foreign buyers, but the Chinese economy slowed, and declining oil prices reduced demand from the wealthy Russian and Middle Eastern markets. As a result, many multi-million dollar units are empty.
Affordable housing was central to Mayor Bill De Blasio’s administration, but progress has stalled. The reasons: onerous zoning regulations, limited federal subsidies, construction delays, and blocked pro-tenant bills. Over the past 10 years, New York City real-estate prices have skyrocketed. From 2010 to 2019, for example, the average sale price of homes doubled in many Brooklyn neighborhoods.
The New York City area is losing about 300 residents every day, with a lack of housing a major factor. New York isn’t alone among big cities with an affordable housing crisis. Across the country, the supply of housing hasn’t kept up with population growth. Single-family-home sales are stuck at 1996 levels, even though the United States has added 60 million people since the mid-’90s.