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More Than Half Of New Yorkers Spend Most Of Their Income On Rent

As one of the most expensive cities in the world , it should come as no surprise that a third of New Yorkers are forking over half their income for rent.

The devastating data comes from the latest report from the nonprofit the Community Service Society of New York, which found that 55% of households, or nearly 1.2 million households, in the Big Apple were “rent-burdened” in 2021, meaning tenants spent at least 30% of their income on rent.

A staggering 34% of the city’s tenants were classified as “severely rent-burdened,” spending at least half their income on monthly rent as rates soar well above the median income.

In short: Housing is becoming too expensive for the average New Yorker.

It’s not necessarily a new trend — since 2005, the average NYC renter has been rent-burdened, according to the report, which is based on answers to the city’s Housing and Vacancy Survey.

More Than Half Of New Yorkers Spend Most Of Their Income On Rent

In 2021, a household of renters earned an estimated $60,600 on average, much lower than the area median income, which is used to determine housing affordability by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The 2023 AMI for the NYC region is $127,100 for a three-person family, per City Hall, with the number varying based on family size.

That AMI is “wildly out of sync” with residents’ actual incomes because, according to CSS, the federal department skews the calculation based on the city’s soaring housing market, which hit a record high in July.

“The median renter is rent-burdened, and the median New Yorker is low-income,” CSS housing policy analyst Sam Stein told Gothamist .

In other words, it’s not the glitz and glam TikTokers paint it to be.

“It’s a very different image than I think a lot of people have of who lives in New York City,” Stein added.

Tenants living below the federal poverty line — 475,000 households — bore the brunt of the city’s housing crisis, as 84% were categorized as severely rent-burdened in 2021.

“That basically means that every single family that’s in this situation is on the brink of eviction in any given month,” Oksana Mironova, a CSS housing policy analyst, told Gothamist. “That’s staggering.”

And worse, the living conditions were bleak, despite the astonishing surge in rental prices.

The survey found that 24% of New York residences had rodent infestations, 18% had leaks, 17% reported cracks in floors and ceilings, 16% had heat outages in the winter and 9% had mold.

Stein and Mironova are calling for stronger rent regulations, such as limiting price hikes , and more affordable housing options — amid opposition from trade associations for landlords who claim such regulations restrict profit and property upkeep.

Mayor Eric Adams plans to address the housing crisis by overhauling the city’s zoning laws, which could see an estimated 100,000 units built over 15 years.

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