Category Archives: Buildings

Which Sections of the City Generate the Most & Least Complaints to Graffiti-Free NYC?

Graffiti-Free NYC is a city program that removes graffiti at no cost to the owners of residential, commercial, or industrial buildings. Anyone can report graffiti on any property by calling 311. The program is run jointly by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, Department of Sanitation, and the Community Affairs Unit of the Mayor’s office.



  • Since fiscal year 2011, Graffiti-Free NYC has received an average of 14,916 complaints a year. But the numbers of complaints citywide are declining, from 15,393 in 2011 to 13,415 in 2016.
  • In 2016, the heaviest concentrations of complaints were in Central and Southwest Brooklyn and in Lower Manhattan. Complaints have been largely down in the rest of the city since 2011, particularly in the South Bronx and Queens.
  • In 2011 through 2013 it took an average of 67 days from receipt of a graffiti complaint for Graffiti-Free NYC to send a team to clean the site. In 2014 and 2015 it took an average of 114 days for a response (data is not complete for 2016).
  • The increased response time may mean owners or neighbors are taking matters into their own hands. The percentage of complaints that resulted in graffiti removal has declined from 84 percent in 2011 to 62 percent in 2015 as cleaning crews responding to complaints increasingly find no graffiti at the reported location.
  • The budget for Graffiti-Free NYC from fiscal year 2011 through fiscal year 2016 has averaged $1.9 million annually, with the majority of the funding in recent years coming from a federal grant program. While the federal funding is no longer available, the Mayor has increased the city funding for the program to $2.5 million in 2017.

Prepared by Daniel Huber
 New York City Independent Budget Office

Print version available here.

SOURCE: IBO analysis of Department of Sanitation data
NOTE: Map divisions are based on City Council districts.

New York City By The Numbers

IBO Homepage

How Many Rent-Regulated Units Are Rented at Preferential Rates and Where Are They Located?

It is commonly assumed that rent regulation limits the amount owners can charge tenants, keeping rents below what the market would otherwise command. Yet for thousands of apartments across the city, landlords charge their tenants rents that are lower than the maximum allowed under rent-regulation rules. This is known as a preferential rent. While landlords will sometimes forgo additional permissible rent to retain a reliable tenant, in neighborhoods where there are large shares of tenants paying preferential rents, it is an indication that local market rents are not constrained by rent regulations.

Using apartment registration data from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, IBO found that of the 765,354 state-registered units subject to the traditional rent-regulation rules in 2013 (the most recent data available), 23 percent—more than 175,000 apartments—were rented at a preferential rate.

Share of Regulated Units Rented at Preferential Rates

Click on a neighborhood to see number of rent-regulated apartments and share with preferential rents.


  • Neighborhoods with some of the highest shares of tenants in regulated units paying preferential rates were Oakwood in Staten Island (62 percent), and Fresh Meadows and Bay Terrace in Queens (61 percent and 60 percent, respectively). The overall number of regulated units in these areas, however, was small.
  • In neighborhoods with large numbers of regulated units, those with high shares of units receiving preferential rents include Flushing (38 percent), Astoria (35 percent), and Hunters Point-Sunnyside (34 percent).
  • Some of the neighborhoods with substantial numbers of regulated units and the lowest shares of apartments with preferential rents include the West Village (10 percent) and the Upper West Side (10 percent). Outside of Manhattan, Borough Park (15 percent) and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens (17 percent) in Brooklyn had low shares of preferential rents.


  • The prevalence and extent of the rent preference varies among the boroughs. Brooklyn had the largest number of regulated units receiving preferential rents, followed by Queens.
  • In terms of the median preferential rent discount—the difference between what the tenant pays and the maximum legal rent the landlord could charge under rent regulation—apartments in Manhattan had the largest median discount, while units in Brooklyn had the smallest.

The fact that in some parts of the city more than a quarter of units receive preferential rents indicates that rent regulation is not always the most important factor in determining a tenant’s rent. Barring substantial increases in market rents in the neighborhoods with large shares of regulated units with preferential rates, continued regulation might not make much difference in determining the cost of housing for tenants in those areas.

 Prepared by Sarah Stefanski

New York City Independent Budget Office

SOURCE: IBO analysis of data from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal
NOTES: A total of 862,254 regulated units were registered with the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal in 2013, approximately 84 percent of the total estimated number of rent-regulated units in the city. A total of 96,900 units added into rent regulation after 1974 in exchange for certain financing benefits, such as the 421-a and 421-g tax incentive programs, were excluded from this analysis.

Print version available here.

New York City By The Numbers

IBO Homepage

How Much is NYC Paying to Make Housing Repairs That Should be Done by Landlords?

The city has two repair programs that step in when residential landlords fail to maintain their buildings:

Emergency Repair Program. If a landlord fails to correct the most serious housing code violations, the city may make the repairs (or contract out the work) and bill the owner for the cost of the repair and administrative fees.

Alternative Enforcement Program. Each year the city selects the 200 most distressed residential buildings for participation. If the owner fails to make repairs, the city may do so and bill the owner accordingly. For more information see IBO’s fiscal brief on alternative enforcement.


PDF version here.

New York City By The Numbers IBO Homepage