In Queens, rent prices continue to “fly” in working-class neighborhoods…and there is no hope of “landing”

The county of the city of New York with the lower rent housing supply, is beginning to show very clear signs of a runaway price, which there are no signs will have any brake. This is Queens, home to thousands of Latin American families, where in the last three months the records point to a rise in rents of 14.56%.

Based on the recent MNS Real Estate market report, some neighborhoods like Long Island City, Ridgewood and Jamaica are experiencing the largest increases.

The astronomical and historic rise in real estate and commercial rent in the Big Apple, which is recorded in contract renewals registered in Manhattan, has implied increases of even 50% and 60% in many cases. This trend is having a knock-on effect on other counties hitherto considered cheaper to live in.

This well-documented dynamic of rents driving evictions, coupled with other inflationary spirals, is turning New York City into “unlivable” for the working class and small commercial entrepreneurs. That is the label that the Venezuelan merchant puts on this whole process, José Madariaga, a 45-year-old immigrant living in Queens for a decade.

“During the pandemic, some ‘landlords’ offered contracts with free month offers, because the demand was very low. People were fleeing from all over New York. In Manhattan everything went down. Now when everything is reactivated, the owners want their money back. And they’re wild on the raises”, he recounted.

José says that in April 2021, he rented a small one-room apartment in $2,650 in Long Island City, Queens, but when it was time to renew this year, the realtor told her that the new adjustment was almost $600 more. With a yellow underlined line indicating: “no negotiation”.

“Everything became a vicious circle that has already started. And it will end up displacing the working class of Queens as well, who are destined to live in old buildings with no services. The point is that new construction families and professionals with better incomes are taking itwho have been fleeing the prices of Manhattan and areas of Brooklyn”, explained the trader.

The analyzes of the streeteasy real estate company point out that apartment prices in New York City have been rising “at the fastest rate in over a decade,” and sky-high rents in manhattan are also affecting the “cheaper” neighborhoods like Queens and Brooklyn.

“Off-priced renters are looking to find a home outside of Manhattan, driving up prices and reduces inventory in both Queens and Brooklyn”this corporation reported to local media.

In Queens, rental inventory declined for the fifth consecutive quarter, falling by 9% compared to the previous quarter with 8,984 units available.

As a result, the median rent applied for in Queens crossed the $2,600 barrier at the end of the second quarter of this year. An increase that according to this company exceeds 13%.

Mexican Rosa González knows about rent increases in Queens: “Almost everyone I know has had their rent increased in Jackson Heights.” (Photo: F. Martínez)

More pronounced in May and June

The numbers from various real estate companies suggest that the rise in rents has not only swelled in neighborhoods like Astoria and Long Island Citywhich even before the pandemic already showed high rents compared to most Queens neighborhoods.

For example, in Jackson Heights a increase of 2.39%, even higher than Astoria at 1.98%. In Rego Park prices rose on average by 1.55% and Forest Hills with 0.51%.

Overall, rent weights in this county, which until now offered more affordable living options, increased from $2,409 in March to $2,472 in April. With a very clear tendency to continue on their way to the “heavens”.

The increase was more pronounced in the last analyzed month: the average income averages between May and June showed an increase of 4.60%, that is, they went from an average of $2,507 in May to $2,622 in June.

This trend is witnessed by the Mexican Rosa Gonzalez, resident of Jackson Heights, a neighborhood where more than 60% of its residents are of Hispanic origin and that for decades it has been the housing “refuge” of working-class immigrants.

“I don’t know anyone in Jackson Heights who hasn’t had their rent raised. With this inflation and the problems that many poor families have to survive, everything is very complicated. Much more, for those they do not apply for certain benefits, because they do not have papers”Rose stated.

In the neighborhood of Jamaica, the average rent increase exceeded 5%. (Photo: F. Martínez)

“I don’t want to live the rest of my life in a cave”

This kind of labyrinth of few housing options is known by the worker of the Ecuadorian construction, Domingo Padrón, 55 years old, who came to New York the Christmas before the pandemic hit. His testimony is very clear: “I came to live in an annex of these basements, in a house with several countrymen with the illusion that in a matter of months I could get something better. But I see very far that I can move”.

Domingo is one of thousands of Queens residents whose only option is to live in basements. And in the face of a housing crisis, which is taking an increasingly dramatic turn in the ‘city of skyscrapers’, it is resigned to the fact that his destiny is to look for another state in which to live.

“Some countrymen are talking to me about options in Connecticut or Philadelphia. I don’t want to continue living in a cave for the rest of my life.. Undocumented. Without my family. And with the danger of living like this”, confessed the immigrant.

“Now, everything looks more tragic”

In this sense, Lino Diazattorney for Communities Resist, a legal services organization that represents low-income tenant associations, many of whom live in large, older, rent-stabilized buildings in Elmhurst, Woodside, Jamaica, Flushing and Astoria He is not optimistic about the future.

“We are seeing more landlords taking advantage of humble tenants. first because live in buildings with many minimal violations of essential services. And, second, because precisely in these neighborhoods, there are large real estate movements that will end up evicting the poorest because of the prices. This trend is not new. But, now after the pandemic, everything looks more tragic ”,

This activist of Salvadoran origin, who fights eviction cases in court, observes how families in their 30s and 40s in Queens “lose their roots and their right to decent housing,” because the ‘landlords’ always find a way, despite the current rent stabilization codes in New York, to push out low-income communities, many of them made up of immigrant families.

“This county has more houses than any other. And our families’ options to get out of those basements are shrinking. But the possibility that many can maintain their apartments is also complicated. At this instant any increase, Although it seems minimal, it is a sentenceDiaz asserted.

Corona, Elmhurst and Flushing at “maximum risk”

The Displacement Risk Map developed by the New York City Department of Planning (DCP) clearly illustrates the level of risk residents may currently face of not being able to remain in their home or neighborhood. This tool crosses demographic and quality of life aspects, to predict how close certain communities are to having to abandon these localities.

On the map of Queens, neighborhoods categorized as “maximum risk” of displacement are Corona, Elmhurst and Flushing, three neighborhoods that have something in common: More than 90% of its population are non-whitemore than 45% live below the poverty line and more than 46% have limited English.

Jamaica, Kew Garden Jackson Heights and Long Island City top the list of localities in this county at “high risk” of displacement.

The City clarifies that this map represents a “snapshot of current conditions” and does not provide enough information to predict the effect that future changes, such as new zoning or housing supply, they would have in any neighborhood.

The landlords speak

Despite the federal and state aid programs such as the Cares Act and the Emergency Rental Assistance Programmany building owners argue that they, too, are recovering from losses from the pandemic.

“For months, almost none of my tenants paid their rent. And we continue to cover the costs of the services. We are always the demons of this story. Here we all made sacrifices. We all lost here”, he remarked to The newspaper the manager of a real estate office in Astoria.

In a comment shared by The New York Timesyes, Vito Signorilevice president of communications for the Rent Stabilization Association, appreciated that this whole crisis is making this particular sector of the industry look “very bad.”

“There will come a time when rents are going to have to start going down, because no one can afford these apartments at those prices”, he concluded.

In Detail: Rent skyrocketed in Queens

  • 14.56% has been the increase in residential rents in Queens County compared to the first six months of 2021according to data from MSN’s Queens Rental Market report.
  • $2,506.88 was the average of rent in May versus $2,622.16 in June.
  • 4.10% was the average increase across studies from $1,964.23 to $2,044.71.
  • 3.77% was the average rental price increase for a one-bedroom unit. Increase of $2,409.00 to $2,499.80.
  • 5.55% was the increase in the average price lease for a two-bedroom apartment. Increased from $3,147.40 to $3,321.96.
  • 8 neighborhoods tracked by this report showed increases in their weighted rental prices: Long Island City (+1.18%), Astoria (+12.76%), Ridgewood (+5.27%), Flushing (+3.90%), Forest Hills (+5.15 %) and Jamaica (+5.06%).