City Building Permits Drop In 2006; Still the Second-Highest Number Since ’72

The city issued 2.1 percent fewer building permits in 2006 than the year before, according to statistics released by the city on Monday. Still, city officials emphasized that the number of housing units permitted last year–30,927–is the second-highest since 1972. (In 2005, there were 31,599.)

Press release after the jump.

Matthew Schuerman


US Census Data Shows 2005 & 2006 Combined Produce Highest Two Year Total For Housing Permits Since 1965.

NEW YORK. 2006 saw the second highest number of building permits for privately-owned residential units in New York City since 1972, according to newly released data from the US Census Bureau records. With 30,927 units permitted in 2006, only 2005 had a higher number with 31,599 units. The high number for 1972 reflects the large amount of construction at the height of the Mitchell-Lama program.

The data shows that the pace of housing construction remains strong in New York City with thousands of new housing units being added every year. The years 2005 and 2006 combined represent the highest two year total for residential building permits since 1965, the earliest year for which there is reliable data. The years Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has been in office saw the highest five year total — 127,452 units — since 1965.

Shaun Donovan, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development said, “These numbers are great news, representing a pace of new housing construction not seen since the days of the Mitchell-Lama program. The crisis of abandonment that plagued many New York neighborhoods in the 1970s and 1980s was solved by rebuilding neighborhoods, driving down crime and improving schools. That success had led to a new challenge: housing affordability. We are addressing that challenge through the Mayor’s 165,000 unit New Housing Marketplace Plan — the largest municipal affordable housing plan in the nation’s history — and through increasing our overall supply of housing. These figures show that we are continuing to build the record number of housing units we need for our growing population.”

Patricia Lancaster, FAIA, Commissioner of the NYC Buildings Department said, “Construction of new housing in New York City continues at a pace not seen in decades, and I am happy to report that the Buildings Department has been able to satisfy the demand for permits by making it easier to facilitate compliant housing development. By introducing technology to streamline our procedures, we have made the permit application process more transparent and efficient. In the past 10 years, the number of new housing permits issued has increased by over 60% and we look forward to that trend continuing.”

New York City’s population has grown by 900,000 people since 1990 but the pace of housing construction did not create enough units to house the new New Yorkers. That gap between housing supply and demand has created an affordability crunch. The gap has put the housing market out of balance, making housing more expensive for everyone and making it harder for people like police officers, firefighters and teachers to live here. If population growth continues as projected, the city will need thousands more units of housing over the long term to accommodate further projected increases in population.

Mayor Bloomberg has fostered a climate that encourages housing construction, including changes to the building and tax codes and an ambitious series of rezonings. Since the Mayor came to office the City has moved to right the imbalance between population growth and housing construction. Since 2002 permits have been issued for 127,452 housing units. Housing is being produced at a faster pace than population growth which increased by around 14,000 households — creating more housing and preparing for the City adding another one million people over the next 25 years.

Seventy two percent of the permits issued in 2006 were for units in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Twenty eight percent were for units in Manhattan. Since Mayor Bloomberg came to office seventy five percent of new housing permits have been in the outer boroughs, compared to only sixty four percent in the previous three decades. Much of the new construction in the outer boroughs includes market-rate homes affordable to middle-income families.

The 2006 figures show that the number of permits issued for housing units in Brooklyn and Manhattan increased from 2005. Brooklyn saw 9,191 permits in 2006, compared to 9,028 in 2005. There were permits for 8,790 units in Manhattan in 2006, compared to 8,493 in 2005. The Bronx and Queens saw permit numbers little changed: in the Bronx there were 4,658 permits in 2006 and 4,937 in 2005. The 7,252 permits in Queens in 2006 was only 17 permits fewer than in 2005. On Staten Island 1,872 permits were issued in 2005 and 1,036 permits were issued in 2006

City Building Permits Drop In 2006;  Still the Second-Highest Number Since ’72