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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bronx Renters Shelling Out Highest Percent of Paycheck for Rent

In today's New York Times, Manny Fernandez takes a look at the recently released census data to confirm the trend that most of us already know about -- more Bronx renters pay half their income on rent than renters in the other boroughs.

The article, Housing Takes Bigger Bite of New Yorkers’ Incomes, Census Data Shows, reports that about 1/3 of all Bronx renters pay at least half of their income on rent. (2005 Housing and Vacancy Survey data shows that the percentages are much higher in the West Bronx.)

Fernandez does a good job at reporting on how this trend affects real families, in real ways like making the decisions to give up cable tv, or (much worse) cutting back on grocery shopping. He also cites the recent UNHP report that showed newcomers to the Bronx making less than current residents, according to the 2005 data. I've started taking a look at the 2006 data, and it shows that this trend is continuing, but also that all of the other boroughs except Brooklyn are experiencing an influx of lower-income families, albeit to a lesser degree than the Bronx.

The article also touches on the homeowners who are shouldering similar burdens. While it mentions Brooklyn having the highest percent of homeowners paying 50% of their income on mortgage costs at 31.0%, the Bronx is in a virtual tie at 30.7%. All of these numbers will most likely rise as adjustable mortages made in the past two or three years reset at higher rates.
Earlier in the week, City Limits went right at one of the main reasons renters are finding themselves in this squeeze in WHEN WALL ST. COMES TO 139TH ST., TENANTS WORRY. While profiling the plight of tenants in a Harlem building, the strategy of newer Wall Street-backed apartment building owners is having major effects throughout neighborhoods like the West Bronx, where owners look to raise rents through a variety of means. Since the demand is so high, they are still able to get away with this. But when you put two and two together (the Times article and the City Limits article), you have to wonder where all of this is going. Tenants will eventually reach a breaking point where they can't afford the rent increases, and then what happens?

On a similar theme, NY1 also has a piece on the housing crunch. According to their recent polling:

Nearly 80 percent of residents who've lived in the city 15 years or more say they're spending more of their income on rent than they did back in 1992, and the crunch is happening across the board.

At least two-thirds of every economic, racial and geographic group said they're giving up more of their paycheck to rent or mortgage. And more than 60 percent of New Yorkers saying it's chipping away at their overall quality of life.


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