With New York’s real estate market nearing another cyclical peak, there is renewed concern in the press and political circles about the city’s housing crisis. Much discussion of the rediscovered crisis, however, is driven by anecdotes based on middle-class experiences in a relatively few neighborhoods.

Fortunately, the Census Bureau has recently made available the raw data from the city’s 1999 Housing and Vacancy Survey (HVS). The complete microdata from the survey’s 16,000 respondent households is now available for downloading by researchers from the Bureau’s website, as are numerous data tabulations for those users not equipped to perform large-scale data analysis themselves.

The HVS provides an invaluable window into changes in the city’s residential real estate market and the social evolution of its neighborhoods. The HVS is a stratified random sample that provides a statistically reliable picture of changes in the city’s housing stock and of the economic circumstances of the people who live in it. The previous housing survey was conducted in 1996.

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