Housing Q & A, Spring 2013
Questions presented by the FSC Housing Committee and answers provided by members of the Office of Faculty Housing
Is the University reducing/phasing out graduate students from all NYU housing, (except dorms)? How many graduate students live in NYU housing?
- Faculty housing is primarily in place to assist the academic mission of the university and is based on academic merit. Because of the limited number of rental apartments and the need to use housing as a strategic resource to support NYU’s academic mission, the number of graduate student units in faculty housing has decreased in the prior three years from 75 to 65. There are approximately 60 studios occupied by graduate students this year, which are all located in Washington Square Village. There are also 200 Post Doctorate apartments, most of which (approximately 170) are studios primarily located in Washington Square Village as well as other faculty housing buildings. In addition to the university housing stock, individual schools, depending on their priorities, provide housing or provide supplements for students (e.g., School of Law, School of Medicine, FAS and a few others.)
When will there be another lottery for loans for faculty housing residents?
- It has not been determined if or when another loan program will be offered to faculty housing residents. The timing and parameters are currently being evaluated.
What is the status on window cleaning? Has there been any progress on finding a bonded and insured company? Spring is a good time to get windows cleaned. Will there also be the opportunity for tenants to have, at their own expense, more frequent cleaning by the service which your office engages?
- Exterior window washing of faculty housing apartment is now an annual process that typically commences during the summer and is completed by late fall. Window cleaning in WSV is now in progress; work commenced on September 4th and is scheduled to conclude by November 1st. Following WSV, window cleaning will begin at 29-37 Washington Square West. Most other faculty housing locations have been completed with the exception of 14 Washington Place, which is scheduled for a complete window replacement program, and Silver Towers because of the on-going Local Law 11 work. Tenants may have their windows cleaned from the interior at their own expense and convenience. Residents should contact Cushman and Wakefield at 646-997-9988 to receive a list of approved window cleaning vendors.
Is there any way to incentivize people to downsize or move out of NYU housing? Is this decision making done centrally or at the School level?
- Faculty Housing is a critical strategic resource that has been very important in faculty recruitment and has helped the University create a residential campus with members of the faculty living and working in New York City. Ensuring there is an availability of a variety of apartment types in our rental portfolio is important for this effort. Additionally, the university aims at providing a number of housing options to faculty with diverse housing needs. In addition to rental housing, the University has put in place several home ownership programs in the past, including the Home Ownership Program-2 (HOP-2) and the Riverwalk Affordable Mortgage Program (RAMP), that is currently being phased out as all the Riverwalk Landing units (on Roosevelt Island) are in contract or have been sold. We are also assessing previous programs and considering new ownership options and financing mechanisms. In addition, when schools feel that it is a priority, they can, with the approval of the university, offer purchase support packages to faculty as an alternative to NYU rental housing.
Are all faculty housing residents who retire eligible for retirement into studio apartments? What is the pool of apartments available, on the average, for the last five years, for this purpose?
- Here are the eligibility criteria for retiree housing: At retirement, tenants who have no alternative housing options may be eligible to downsize to a studio. The move to a studio must be made prior to retirement. Please refer to your lease for the details of eligibility, which require that the resident not own or rent any other real estate property, in addition to a few other requirements. There are sufficient studio apartments for this purpose. Residents are encouraged to provide as much notice as possible so preferences may be best taken into account. If retiring faculty opt not to move to a studio they may stay in their current rental apartment for one year post-retirement, after which time they would be required to move out.
How and where does the University plan to house NYU-Abu Dhabi and NYU-Shanghai faculty as they cycle to Washington Square?
- To best utilize its limited housing resources, the University has established priorities with the highest priority assigned to house tenure and tenure track faculty at NYU. The sublet program is also useful in the assignment of housing to visiting faculty and faculty from NYUAD and NYU-S would qualify for that program. In addition to the standard sublet program, NYUAD rents blocks of apartments from us at market rates. Read more information on the sublet program
What percentage of the faculty live in faculty housing by School?
- The Faculty Housing Office does not track the total number of faculty per school on a University-wide basis, and there is no quota per school for faculty housing. New housing allocations are restricted to tenure and tenure-line faculty and each request must be supported by a School’s dean. Read the Provost’s statement on faculty housing
How are sublets handled? What is the policy and how are policies enforced?
- There is a University process for approving sublets. Read more information on sublets
The Housing Committee would like a current balance sheet on income and expenditures from faculty housing.
- The financial goal of the Office of Faculty Housing is to ensure that the costs of operating University housing do not economically deprive other high priority academic needs by necessitating excessive University subsidies, while also keeping housing rental rates attractive for the recruitment and retention of high-quality faculty. We strive to keep rents below market rates while still providing sufficient revenue to cover routine operating expenses, which include daily and annual maintenance, repairs, and apartment refurbishments when apartments turnover between occupants; as expenses continue to increase, this becomes increasingly difficult. In addition, major capital maintenance or renovations are not funded from rent revenue, and the University continues to provide this funding since there is insufficient rent revenue available for these needed investments. As we endeavor to moderate or reduce the overall average of rent increases in future lease renewal cycles, the gap between revenue and expenses will continue to grow. We have implemented many efforts designed to contain expenses, including the switch to Cushman & Wakefield as our managing agent so that we may improve the balance with rent revenue, and will continue to examine and implement other feasible opportunities to reduce expenses while maintaining and improving service quality.
Is there a pool of funding for capital repairs?
- Yes there is funding for capital repairs. The university provides funds above and beyond the rent revenue to meet capital maintenance needs in Faculty Housing.
What is the University planning to do with all the land, air-rights, and any of the buildings NYU acquired from NYU Poly?
What is the policy for housing of administrators and non-tenure track full time faculty (NTTF)?
- To best utilize its limited housing resources, the University has established priorities with the highest priority assigned to house tenure and tenure track faculty at NYU. Academic priority is the deciding factor in the allocation of apartments. NTTF are not eligible for faculty housing. There are Administrators who are long time residents in faculty housing who reside there since before the institution of these policies, and they may continue to reside in faculty housing.
How many deans and members of the university administration (vice presidents, provosts, etc.) live in faculty housing? Are retiree deans and members of the university administration exempted from the studio policy?
- Deans (who are faculty members) and senior members of the university administration make up less than 1% of faculty housing residents. This group is eligible for a retirement studio provided all eligibility criteria are met.
What is the vacancy rate?
- The average vacancy rate in Faculty Housing is seven percent. This rate is also representative of the percentage of vacancies within the WSV and ST complexes, where two thirds of the housing portfolio is located. The seven percent vacancy rate closely tracks with the number of recruits and allocations made by the University each year. Buildings with a higher vacancy rate typically have a smaller number of units (such as 14 and 15 Washington Place, 21 Washington Square North, etc.), and one or two vacant apartments skews the percentages. As a reminder, the vacancy rate consists of vacant apartments that are ready for occupancy as well as vacant apartments that are under construction.
How is funding determined to maintain buildings versus individual apartments?
- The allocation of funding for the faculty residential complexes versus the individual occupied apartments is determined using a parallel approach -- assessing maintenance priorities, tracking previous spending costs, and projecting future needs based on historical data and routine maintenance. Funding is further determined based on project scope of work and implementation schedule. Regarding the renovation of unoccupied units, funding is determined based on a reasonable projection of the annual number of units to be renovated; a standard approach using the same specifications is typically used enabling some precision in the budgeting process.
Can you provide more information on the mitigation efforts for the proposed expansion plan?
- The 2031 website provides an updated expansion plan information including a link to the “restrictive declaration” -- commitments made by NYU during the public approvals process, including commitments pertaining to construction and noise mitigation. It also contains a link to a presentation made by NYU to Community Board 2 on October 23, and a commitment matrix outlining all of NYU’s commitments and providing a status update.
Why do long-residing faculty that relocate to other apartments have rent rates equal to those that just arrived?
- The University’s goal with its faculty housing is to fairly and equitably cover operating costs, rather than generate revenue. Up until a few years ago, there was not a systematic method in place to establish rents, so residents of comparable apartments could pay very different amounts. When moving within housing, faculty pay the target rent for the unit as it is currently budgeted according to operating costs. This approach is similar to annual increases aimed to normalize rents.
Tenants whose monthly rent is above the mean will receive lower annual increases. What formula is used to take into account the variables (i.e., unit size, number of years tenant has lived in the unit, and adjustment for rent above or below the mean)?
- Current policy aims to equalize rental rates so that apartments of the same size and amenities have comparable rents. As a result, the University now includes an adjustment factor in the rental increases to bring the apartments with comparatively lower rents in line with other units. This adjustment factor is the driver behind higher increases for rents that are comparatively lower. For rents close to the target rate for comparable apartments, lower increases are in line with maintaining this baseline.