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More than half of New Yorkers are rent burdened: study

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More than half of New York renters devote more than 30 percent of their incomes to rent

The team at Apartment List just released a report on the state of the national rental market, and—well, there’s some good news, and there’s a lot of bad news.

The good news first: based on census data, the share of cost-burdened renter households across the country—that is, households where more than 30 percent of gross monthly income goes to rent—declined “significantly” last year, as median incomes rose faster than rent prices.

“Significantly” here is somewhat subjective: in 2015, 50.6 percent of renters across the country were cost-burdened—down 1.2 percent from 2015, and 2.8 percent below the 2011 peak, the report says. That’s progress, but it’s hardly a return to the halcyon days of 2000, where only 38 percent of households qualified as cost-burdened.

Now the bad news: more than half of renters nation-wide are still paying more than 30 percent of their pre-tax incomes in rent, and, in a twist surprising to literally no one, the number is even higher in New York City, where a full 54.1 percent of renters are cost-burdened. In a survey of the top 100 metropolitan areas, NYC (and surrounding environs, including Jersey City and Newark) comes in toward the very bottom: based on incomes and rents alone (the study doesn’t take other cost-of-living factors into account), it’s the 83rd least affordable metro area on the list, meaning it’s likely you’d be shelling out a smaller proportion of your income on rent if you lived almost anywhere else.

Here is a depressing statistic that speaks to that: between 2005 and 2015, New York rents increased by 13.8 percent, according to Apartment List’s analysis of census data, while renter income increased by just 1.9 percent.

Perversely comforting, though, is the fact that at least NYC isn’t the least affordable city: that honor goes to Miami, where a full 63.9 percent of renters qualify as cost-burdened. Other places struggling with affordability include Los Angeles, San Diego, and pretty much all of Florida.

On the other end of the spectrum is Texas, where rents have risen, but incomes have kept apace. Also promising: parts of the Midwest. Wage growth is slow in cities like Kansas City (No. 1 for affordability) and Minneapolis, but then, rents haven’t been going up much, either.

Apartment List