Rents in NYC Keep Going Up (But It’s Even Worse in Other Cities.)


A new report from the Citizens Budget Commission ranks New York City sixth in median rent costs nationwide, which might come as a surprise to the millions struggling to cut that check every month.

San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego all have a higher median cost, according to the report. And while the West Coast may have sunshine and decent tacos to salve the pain, Washington D.C. and Boston come out ahead as well, which just doesn’t seem fair.

The report might as well be entitled “there are other cities too, New York, so quit your bellyachin’.” But Charles Bresher, the consulting research director for the fiscally conservative CBC, says the point is not to downplay what’s happening in New York City.

“We definitely have an affordability problem,” Bresher says, and the de Blasio Administration’s plan to expand access to affordable housing, backed up with $8.2 billion in funding to make it work, is an important step toward doing something about it, he says.

But as Bresher explains, the study will hopefully help put things in perspective. “New Yorkers are sometimes a little parochial,” Bresher says, “and don’t always think about what’s going on elsewhere in the country.”

There’s good reason to worry about rising rents here, as we pointed out in last week’s cover story. And some factors in New York — like a slow rate of new construction in an extremely built-out city — might make the effects even more acute here, the report says. Because new housing is added at such a slow rate — supply has expanded just 5.8 percent since 2000 — the prices aren’t going down, as they’re more likely to do in fast-growing cities out west.

And of course, the fact that other places are even worse is small comfort. New Yorkers still spend an exorbitant amount of money on their rent. On average, more than half of a resident’s annual income — 51 percent — goes straight off to the landlord. That’s a ten-point jump from where the figure stood in 2000.

But compare that rate to Miami, where residents spend 62 percent of their income on housing; or Los Angeles, where the rate is 59 percent.

New York City also has a larger share of renters — as opposed to homeowners — than any other city in the study. Nearly 70 percent of housing is occupied by people who don’t own their homes. That means the negative trends in New York’s rental market affect comparatively more residents than in those other places.

So if there’s one thing we can feel good about, it’s that we’re all in this together.