Is an Algorithm Driving Up New York City Rents?

While landlords and boosters are touting a ‘flood’ of returning residents to the city as the reason behind rising housing costs, one New Yorker doesn’t buy it.

2 minute read

February 1, 2023, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Multicolored four-story brick New York City apartment buildings with fire escapes

Ryan DeBerardinis / New York City apartment buildings

Writing in Curbed, Lane Brown debunks the myth being perpetuated by real estate agents and landlords that New Yorkers are “flooding back” into the city, creating a deluge of demand for housing that, inevitably, has to get more expensive.

“I had lived happily in New York for more than two decades, through many disasters and rebounds, and I wanted to believe the story of its glorious post-COVID recovery,” Brown writes. But the claims just weren’t adding up. Brown went on to calculate how many New Yorkers had left the city: 317,107 between March 2020 and December 2021. “Outbound migration has slowed since then, but it hasn’t changed direction. By my count, the city lost another 97,794 in 2022, ranging between about 6,000 and 11,000 per month.”

Brown examined potential sources of the “phantom rebound,” but ran into a series of dead ends. Then Brown uncovered the role of RealPage Revenue Management Software, which uses an algorithm to recommend how landlords should price their rental units. “Some argue — including the plaintiffs of over a dozen class-action lawsuits filed in the wake of ProPublica’s story — that RealPage’s software allows individual landlords to keep their hands clean while indirectly colluding to inflate prices.”

Brown explains the history of the company and how it could be impacting New York City housing prices. See the source article for the full analysis.

Friday, January 27, 2023 in Curbed

Black and white Rideshare Pick-Up Zone sign

The Slow Death of Ride Sharing

From the beginning, TNCs like Lyft and Uber touted shared rides as their key product. Now, Lyft is ending the practice.

June 1, 2023 - Human Transit

Urban sidewalk shaded by large mature trees

Cool Walkability Planning

Shadeways (covered sidewalks) and pedways (enclosed, climate controlled walkways) can provide comfortable walkability in hot climates. The Cool Walkshed Index can help plan these facilities.

June 1, 2023 - Todd Litman

Traffic on the 405 interstate freeway through the Sepulveda Pass at Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California

Congestion Pricing Could Be Coming to L.A.

The infamously car-centric city is weighing a proposed congestion pricing pilot program to reduce traffic and encourage public transit use.

May 30, 2023 - Los Angeles Times

Empty Muni underground train platform

Activists Mourn Potential Death of Bay Area Transit With Mock Funeral

In an action meant to draw attention to the financial crisis facing California’s public transit agencies, activists held a mock funeral for BART and Muni, citing the cause of death as ‘neglect.’

22 minutes ago - SFGate

Close-up of phone screen with Airbnb app screen

Proposed Short-Term Rental Tax Would Fund Affordable Housing in California

A state bill would impose a tax similar to a hotel tax on short-term rental owners, with the revenue funding affordable housing projects.

1 hour ago - Cap Radio

Elderly woman enters house with help from caregiver who is holding her hands

The Challenges of Aging in Place

Seniors in one Bay Area community want to stay in their communities, but many find the cost of living and maintaining older homes prohibitive.

2 hours ago - Palo Alto Online

Project Manager III

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

UDO Transportation Planner

City of Charlotte - Charlotte Area Transit

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.