The United States and New York are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. Nearly 11 million American households pay over half of their income in rent despite the fact that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines “affordable housing” as housing costing below 30 percent of a family’s income for rent. If a family pays more than 30 percent of their income on rent, they are considered “rent burdened.”

In New York State, the affordable housing crisis is particularly severe, especially for families of color, due to the widening gap between housing costs and stagnant or falling incomes.

“Over 46 percent of all families in New York spend more than 30 percent on their rent. This forces families to divert resources from other basic needs such as food, clothing, and medical care,” said Brent Kramer, PhD, Senior Economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI). “Half of New York’s families of color are rent burdened, while 40 percent of white families spend less than 20 percent of their income on rent. When housing costs are high, other factors like child poverty and poor health worsen.”

While many people associate the issue of housing affordability with New York City, where the issue of rising rents has been well documented, the problem also affects New York’s other major cities. For example, 61 percent of families of color in Rochester and 55 percent of families of color in Syracuse are rent burdened, while this is the case for “only” 50 percent of families of color in New York City.

“There are thousands of New Yorkers who need affordable or supportive housing, but the state government continues to lag in its efforts to build or support affordable housing options across the state. This only worsens other issues like homelessness and child poverty while widening racial inequality further,” said Melissa Krug, Poverty Analyst at FPI. “The state should invest in rental assistance programs to bridge the housing affordability gap for lower-income families and build new units of permanent, affordable housing statewide. Investing in housing would bring economic and educational opportunities to communities who need it the most.”


Access Rent Inequality Brief Here.