Nearly half of middle-income New Yorkers are struggling to pay their rent, the worst percentage among major U.S. cities, according to a study released Thursday.
About 43% of moderate income New Yorkers are severely rent burdened, meaning they pay at least 50% of their income on housing, according to NYUs Furman Center. The report defined moderate income New Yorkers as making between $17,000 and $40,900 a year.
Furthermore, those making the median income of $40,900 for New York renters could afford just one-fifth of new rentals in NYC in 2013, the report said.
Housing experts warn if nothing is done to curb the problem, the Big Apple could lose an increasing number of residents to greener, cheaper pastures.
“As rent takes more of their income, they have less to spend on other things like transportation, health and food,” said Sean Capperis, the reports co-author.
The report was derived from 2006 and 2013 census data from New York and 10 other cities, including Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia.
Capperis said the increased burden on the moderate-income New Yorkers is a relatively new phenomenon and one that is growing. In 2006, only 33% of those tenants were severely rent burdened.
Low-income New Yorkers, as expected, are struggling the most, with 70.8% severely burdened by rent, according to the Furman Center.
Dallas had the lowest amount of severely rent burdened moderate-income residents with 10%, however that city’s median income for renters is roughly $8,000 lower than New York.
Taking into account homes and apartments that had multiple dwellers, the report said renters in NYC were paying a median of $1,228 in 2013, while those in Dallas paid $839.
Meanwhile, rents in the city continue to rise. According to Douglas Elliman, the median rental price in Manhattan in April 2015 was $3,361 and the median rental price in Brooklyn was $2,961.
Jonathan Bowles, the executive director of the nonprofit Center for an Urban Future, said the situation is troubling because even though the city is gaining residents thanks to a stronger job market, the housing supply hasnt increased at the same rate.
“If New York cant hold on to or attract artists, or immigrants, or allow its poorest residents to climb to the middle class, it becomes a less interesting place,” Bowles said.
Capperis said that policymakers needed to alleviate the pressures on income and rent in order loosen the burden on working class New Yorkers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, other elected officials and housing groups have pushed for the creation of more affordable housing options and have lobbied Albany to strengthen the state’s rent stabilization laws, which expire next month.
Javier H. Valdes, the co-executive director of tenants rights group Make the Road New York, said the Furman Center report emphasized the need to close the rent stabilization law loopholes, which could cost the city tens of thousands of affordable units.
“That’s why thousands of New Yorkers are standing up this month for stronger state rent laws, to ensure that we preserve one million rent-regulated units that are the only option for so many New Yorkers,” he said in a statement.
Public Advocate Letitia James agreed.
“For too many New Yorkers, rent increases have become a runaway train,” she said in a statement. “Albany must do the right thing by tenants and pass sensible rent laws that protect our affordable housing stock.”
Bowles wouldn’t comment on what solutions would be the best for the income struggle but added that the city needs to make it a priority fast.
Other cities are competing with New York and for the working poor or middle class your money goes further there, he said.
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