Posts Tagged "rent increases"
February 21, 2023
Burden of High Rents Surged during COVID
As the bad first two years of the pandemic recede in the rear-view mirror, a new report reminds us how tough things got for renters.
In 2021, a record 21.6 million U.S. families were paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent, which is the real estate industry’s benchmark for people whose housing costs have become a financial burden. That amounts to just under half of all renter households who were struggling during COVID – very close to the high reached during the Great Recession.
And the vast majority of the 1.2 million increase from 2020’s level was in the group that struggles the most: families who pay more than 50 percent of their income to rent a house or apartment.
Two things were going on that have increased the burden on renters, according to a rent report by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. First, rents rose unabated throughout the pandemic and are 25 percent higher than they were at the end of 2019.
But the housing center points to a second factor that added to the burden: renters, who tend to have lower earnings, lost income during the pandemic. The downward shift in their earnings illustrates that. The number of renter households earning less than $30,000 increased by 223,000 in 2021, while the number earning more than $75,000 dropped by 280,000.
The change in the renter population marked “a shift towards households that are much more likely to experience cost burdens,” the report said. …Learn More
September 1, 2022
Suburban ‘Rent Deserts’ are a Problem
Boston, a city of fewer than 1 million people, is surrounded by layers and layers of suburbs linked to the city by subways, ferries, and a commuter rail. The suburbs’ opposition to a new state law requiring them to zone some land for apartments illustrates why U.S. rental housing is scarce and rents have soared.
The sprawling town of Hamilton, with 8,000 residents, told The Boston Globe that rental housing will “destroy the well-being of our community.” Other municipalities warn their schools, infrastructure, and police and fire departments will be overwhelmed by population increases or that they don’t have enough land to accommodate multifamily rental properties.
Not all of Boston’s suburbs are opposed to building more multifamily housing. Before the state law passed, the city of Newton had already started revamping its zoning regulations to encourage more rental properties around transit stops. But three out of four of the 23,000 lots in Newton are currently zoned for single family homes.
Suburban neighborhoods around the country account for more than two-thirds of “rental deserts,” according to a report by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. The deserts are mostly white and mostly higher-income, and less than 20 percent of their housing stock is rentals, compared to a range of 50 percent to 80 percent in areas with ample rental properties. Low inventories nationwide have fueled double-digit rent increases from Idaho to Florida.
In the city of Boston, house prices have skyrocketed, so suburbs with mass transit are somewhat more affordable for lower- and middle-income workers who commute downtown to their jobs. But rental deserts, with their “not-in-my-backyard politics” are “a significant factor in limiting opportunities for rental households and for lower-income renters in particular,” the housing center said. …Learn More