Turning its gaze from the couples who can't decide between a pied-à-terre in Soho or that carriage house on Fire Island, the New York Times' Real Estate section highlights the growing impossibility of living in Manhattan, where rents increased by nearly 20% from 2005 to 2012 (and continue to climb) while roughly 25% of the borough's rent-regulated units have disappeared.
The article is titled "Middle-Class Lament: Rent," and leads with the Boyers, a family of three trying to live on the Upper West Side with a total yearly income of $110K a year and paying $2,700/month in rent.
“I can’t complain,” Mr. Boyer said. “We have a decent life. But we worry that we can’t save any money. If we have major health care expenses, we wouldn’t have saved enough to cover them. If we were in France, we might be paying the same percent of our salary for rent, but items like health care would be covered. Our back is against the wall."
"Middle-income" in New York City is defined as a household of three making an annual salary of $91K to $152K.
Thus "middle-income" households also include apartments that house roommates who each earn a little bit more than what the city calls "very-low income" ($42K). Danielle Dormand and her two roommates earn a combined $150K and live in a converted two-bedroom on East 39th with a rent of $4,100/month.
“And nails, eyebrows — they’ve gone out the window,” Ms. Dormand said. “I use box hair dye. I eat dollar pizza, and I’ve learned to like it. Broke in Florida isn’t like broke here. Here, $40 gets you nowhere, not even out of the house.”
And this is just "middle-income" New Yorkers, to say nothing of the 46% of the city who live at or near the poverty level.
The report mentions the mayor's plan to resuscitate the affordable housing market, but does not state how woefully inadequate it is compared to the severity of the problem. For that, we have Steve Wishnia:
In documenting the depth of the problem, the plan notes that the city has about 980,000 households who earn less than $42,000 a year (50% of metropolitan “area median income”) for a family of four—including more than half of its renters—and about 360,000 of them spend more than half their income on rent. It says there are about 425,000 apartments that rent for $1,050 or less (about 40% in public housing), what these households could afford without spending more than 30% of their income on rent. That’s a shortfall of more than 550,000 units.
In short, the de Blasio plan would build about 16,000 apartments for this income group—more than twice as many as Bloomberg did, but not quite 3 percent of what it implies are needed.