Multifamily Housing

NEW Research on Multifamily, Rental Housing on Long Island

The Long Island Index is excited to launch a series of research focused on multifamily, rental housing on Long Island. Through this multipart study we are researching three key questions:

1. How much do we need to build for Long Island’s future economic growth?
2. If our rents are high now, what are the options for them to come down?
3. Where are we building? Near our downtowns which allows for greater access to public transportation and access to amenities or further away?

Our first piece of research explores how many rentals we have, when they were built, where they were built, rental costs, how those costs compare to other suburban regions, and what is projected to be built as Long Island starts to increase our stock in multifamily homes.

A public opinion survey, conducted in the fall of 2015, explores attitudes about housing options and their affordability among residents of Long Island and compares them with those of other nearby suburbs.

A new report by HR&A and RPA entitled, “Long Island’s Needs for Multifamily Housing: Measuring How Much We Are Planning to Build vs. How Much We Need for Long Island’s Future” looks ahead 15 years to see how much more multifamily housing is likely to be needed for our population.  The report also explores how downtown communities can accommodate the growth without impacting the basic suburban characteristics of the community.

A report by the Long Island Index and City University of New York Mapping Service entitled, Mapping Long Island’s Rentals, documents the history of building rental housing near train stations.  Historically, a substantial amount of rental housing on Long Island was built near train stations (as much as 50% before the 1960s), but the number of rental units built near LIRR stations from the 1970s to 2000 fell steadily; now only 30% of Long Island’s existing rental units in apartment buildings are within a half-mile of a train station.  In recent years (since 2000) the number of rental units near train stations has increased, but that appears to be only a temporary reversal: the percentage of planned rental units near train stations has once again fallen. Only 27% of the proposed rental apartments in Long Island’s pipeline are within a half-mile of a train station.

The map provides the first and only online bird’s-eye-view of multifamily housing across both counties, as well as a wealth of detail within each community and for each individual housing site. The map displays rental and coop/condo locations in an easy-to-use format, enabling Long Islanders to explore any community on the island. Multifamily housing is defined as any building with three or more attached residential units and includes both rentals and owner-occupied buildings such as co-ops and condominiums.

This article by Elizabeth Moore (published in May 2016), former Newsday reporter and current journalism adjunct professor at Stony Brook University, explores the experience of one developer, AvalonBay Communities, Inc., to compare the approval processes on Long Island with those of other suburban areas.

The case study highlights the unusual difficulty of navigating the approval process on Long Island, which makes it particularly hard for developers to take on the business risk inherent in building here. AvalonBay Communities has figured out how to make it work for them, but it’s one of the largest Real Estate Investment Trusts in the nation – with deep enough pockets to ride out long permitting processes as well as multiple business cycles. Smaller developers are much more challenged by these conditions, and the report studies many that had to sell out their holdings because they got caught in changing economic tides. And it is Long Islanders who ultimately pay the price. With a more difficult and lengthy permitting process, fewer apartments are built, rents rise, and many of those who want multifamily housing – especially young Long Islanders – are priced out of the market from the outset.