Queens housing demand to surge in 2016 as Brooklyn remains most unaffordable borough, StreetEasy says

An undated scene in Jamaica, Queens.
An undated scene in Jamaica, Queens. Photo Credit: MTA

As New Yorkers continue the eternal struggle with high rents in Manhattan and Brooklyn, they’re increasingly setting their sights on Queens, according to a report.

Demand in the borough is set to rise in 2016, according to real estate site StreetEasy, with Jamaica shaping up to be the top neighborhood to watch, according to Alan Lightfeldt, a senior analyst for the company.

The move away from the familiar hot spots — such as Park Slope and the West Village — toward heretofore under-the-radar locales signals a major shift in the city’s housing landscape.

“It underscores how New Yorkers are willing to expand their search. You can get more of your money there,” Lightfeldt said.

The city’s rents are expected to grow at a slower pace next year, rising to a median of $3,055 in 2016, according to the report. Manhattan rents will have the highest median with $3,192, Brooklyn’s will be $2,700 and the Bronx will see median rents of $1,611, StreetEasy predicted. The site didn’t analyze Staten Island rents.

The rent-to-income ratio in Brooklyn is slated to be the worst in the city at 65.7% in 2016 (with the citywide average predicted to be 65.4%). Housing advocate groups, such as Make the Road New York, bemoaned the fundamental ways this is changing the borough and the city.

“Our neighborhoods continue to face existential threats due to unaffordable rents and the threat of displacement. In Brooklyn, this has become a sad fact of life in many neighborhoods,” said José López, the group’s director of community organizing.

In Queens, however, there’s some cause for hope. Renters will face a median rent of $2,257 in 2016, and residents will have the second lowest rent-to-income ratio in the city, at 51.7%, StreetEasy said.

Five of the ten neighborhoods predicted to be the most in demand for renters next year are in the borough, according to StreetEasy. Jamaica’s cheaper rents (a median monthly rent of $1,750 in 2015), proximity to public transportation and major highways, as well as recent redevelopment efforts, launched it to the top of StreetEasy’s list.

Yvonne Riddick, the district manager for Queens Community Board 12, which covers Jamaica, said more is on the way.

“There’s a number of housing units to be developed, and hopefully retail. We’re looking forward to Jamaica getting a face-lift,” she said.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who set up a “Jamaica Now Action Plan” this year to create a blueprint for its future, was thrilled by the presence of Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Woodside, Elmhurst and Kew Gardens Hills on StreetEasy’s report. She emphasized the importance of keeping the borough affordable amid the predicted influx of new renters.

“While the growth is necessary and encouraged, the challenge for government will be to aggressively expand affordable housing stock to meet the ever-growing demand,” she said in a statement.

City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who chairs the Council’s Housing Committee, said the city needs to push its plan to create more affordable housing to meet the ever-increasing demand.

“The problems is wherever is affordable now, won’t be in a year from now, if we don’t step in as government and make sure these prices won’t rise unchecked, now one is going to live here,” he said.  

(With Felipe De La Hoz)