Rental squeeze

I haven’t noticed it in Philadelphia. How about where you are?

The housing bust horror flick is now giving way to a very unwelcome sequel: a big squeeze on the cost of renting.

The number of renters paying more than half of their income towards rent has hit record levels, according to a new study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University.

Rental affordability is a critical issue for seniors, who live on fixed incomes and already are coping with low yields on their savings, fast-rising healthcare expenses and stagnant Social Security benefits. Yet the struggle with affordability is found most often among low-income Americans; JCHS found that 75 percent of renters in the lowest quartile of income are spending more than half of their income on housing. JCHS also found that lower-middle class renters also are having trouble finding affordable rental housing.

For example, 33 percent of renters with annual income of $14,500 to $30,000 are facing “severe burdens” in finding affordable rent. And the problem is growing most rapidly among demographic groups traditionally less likely to have affordability problems, including younger households, married couples with children and renters with some college education.

“These are astounding numbers,” says Eric Belsky, managing director of JCHS. “If you are spending half of your income on housing, you have very little to spend on everything else.”

6 thoughts on “Rental squeeze

  1. I’m finding cheap housing by renting as a roommate instead of getting my own place. Besides being affordable, it seems wise to have other people in the house now that I’m getting old.

  2. You never read “Nickeled and Dimed,” did you?
    A two-bedroom in my town runs well over $500. (I was making $1.25 over minimum wage, and that would be close to half of what I was making – 48% of take-home.) Landlords are buying up as much as they can, as cheap as they can, and charging by the person. (These same landlords are on the (Get money to make your place energy efficient boards, and awarding themselves grants – to fix up their rental properties. Yay.)

  3. Yes, I did read it.

    See, a two-bedroom in my town for $500 would be a BARGAIN, and we’re considered pretty cheap. It’s all what you’re used to, which is why I asked what it’s like everywhere else.

    By the way, sounds like a good argument for local political organizing.

  4. this is but one of the many reasons why i don’t want to go back to renting. more mobility, yes.

    but you’re also at the mercy of markets, whereas my mortgage costs are fixed. notwithstanding maintenance, the occasional emergency, etc.

  5. i don’t know where you’d even find a 1 br for $500. maybe all those places with boarded up windows i drive past every day.

  6. There are a lot of one BR places in my hood for $500 — but that doesn’t include any utilities, and they’re pretty run down.

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