The 10th annual “State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods” report, released on May 1 by NYU Law’s Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy, is not only a yearly vehicle for disseminating the center’s collected data on housing and neighborhood conditions in the city, but also an opportunity for the center to focus on timely issues. In the current edition of the report, the Furman Center highlights inequities in the property tax system, changes in the racial and ethnic composition of neighborhoods, mortgage-lending trends, and a comparison of New York City’s federally subsidized housing numbers with those of the other most densely populated U.S. cities.

According to the report, property taxes, New York City’s largest revenue source, are assessed inequitably. While one- to three-family homes are taxed at the lowest effective rate, large apartment buildings are subject to a significantly higher tax rate. As a result, New York has one of the highest tax rates on apartment buildings anywhere in the nation, whereas the tax on one- to three-family homes is among the lowest. 

In a press release, Furman Center co-director Ingrid Gould Ellen said, “Our analysis aims to clarify New York City’s property tax structure and highlight how the current inequitable distribution of the property tax burden can affect residents. The higher tax burden placed on rental properties may be passed onto tenants either through higher rents, or in cutbacks to maintenance or building improvements. In the wake of the recession and housing crisis, this is a critical time for policymakers to reconsider New York City’s policies towards renters, including its practice of favoring homeowners through the property tax system.”

Among the report’s other findings: while New York City neighborhoods are still highly segregated, they have become less so in the past two decades. The Furman Center also reported on recent mortgage trends. Foreclosure notices declined 28 percent between 2010 and 2011, while the number of properties entering bank ownership plummeted more than 80 percent. Meanwhile, new home-buying loans increased 11 percent from 2009 to 2010, largely due to increased numbers of mortgages in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

Posted on May 2, 2012