When The Rent Was Less Damn High

The end of stabilization

Photo: Daniel Latorre

More than two decades later, it has become clear that the 1994 vote [on vacany decontrol] was more consequential for the lives of New Yorkers than anyone could have predicted at the time. Through dozens of interviews and research in state and city archives, ProPublica has unearthed the hidden history behind the vote… In a city where haves and have-nots have battled over affordable housing since the Civil War, the Council vote tilted the balance. Vacancy decontrol expanded the city’s tax base, and likely helped revive decaying neighborhoods, but at the cost of driving out longtime residents. Those dislodged had few other options, especially since New York’s population, which fell sharply in the 1970s, began to climb. For every rental unit added to the housing stock between 1993 and 2014, nine people moved into New York, according to a ProPublica analysis of city and census data.

Even if this piece didn’t have the quote “Could we envision that people would be moving to Bushwick and paying $2,000 an apartment?” in it, it would still be worth your time, but it does, so it absolutely is.

The Fateful Vote That Made New York City Rents So High

You may also enjoy this related 1997 debate on the topic between Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg (Sample: “You’re playing a race card with a pretty low face value, given how much time you spend above 96th Street yourself, Malcolm”) that surely both of those guys would prefer to forget.