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As Rents Rise, Mayor Adams Faces Pressure on New York’s Housing Crisis

“I know it feels like I have been the mayor for five years, but I’ve been here for five months,” Mr. Adams said at a news conference last Friday. “I’ve inherited a broken city, with broken systems. We can either put a Band-Aid on top of these broken systems, or go to the core and fix them.”

But he added, “There’s no rush to doing this. We’ve got to get it right.”

In New York City, roughly one-third of renters are “severely rent-burdened,” meaning they spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent, according to a survey of the city’s housing stock issued last week. More than 48,000 people slept in New York City shelters each night in March, according to the Coalition for the Homeless, with the number of single adults in shelters increasingly steadily over the last several years.

The pandemic accentuated many of those problems, as tens of thousands of people struggled to afford rent or mortgage payments and sought government assistance.

Many places across the nation are grappling with housing affordability, and there is a growing recognition that a root cause is the shortage of available homes. This week, President Biden announced a new plan to address the housing crisis that would incentivize reforming zoning laws to allow for more density, among other provisions.

The city’s affordability crisis has been underscored more than once in recent weeks. A report released this month by the brokerage firm Douglas Elliman showed that rents in some parts of the city continue to surge: In Manhattan, for example, the median effective rent in April 2022 was $3,870, more than 38 percent higher than a year before and the highest level ever recorded.

The survey of the city’s housing stock underscored a longstanding trend of dwindling affordability: Between 2017 and 2021, New York City lost almost 100,000 units that had rented for less than $1,500 per month, while it added 107,000 units that rent for at least $2,300 per month.

A panel effectively controlled by the mayor recently voted to back some of the biggest rent increases in nearly a decade for rent-stabilized homes — where more than two million people live, many who are lower income. Evictions are slowly on the rise, after the state’s pandemic moratorium expired in January.

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