Press Release Housing

CBC Analysis Finds That 42 Percent of New York City's Renter Households Are "Rent Burdened"

November 12, 2015

About Half of Those Households are “Severely Rent Burdened” – Paying More Than 50 Percent of Income in Rent 

New York, NY – The Citizens Budget Commission today released its latest analysis of housing affordability in New York City. The analysis – contained in a policy brief titled “Whose Burden Is It Anyway? Housing Affordability in New York City by Household Characteristics” – uses newly available data to reveal who is most affected by the rent burden in the city.

Drawing upon a housing survey conducted for New York City by the U.S. Census Bureau every three years and released in June 2015, the CBC analysis explores a variety of household characteristics. That information makes it possible to develop a more nuanced assessment of the rent burden – looking not simply at “gross rent” (rent and utilities) compared to household income but at “out-of-pocket rent” (the actual amount tenants report paying for housing costs after receiving government subsidies or other financial support) compared to “adjusted household income” (including income received from food stamps).

The CBC analysis reveals the following:

  • 42 percent of New York City’s renter households are “rent burdened;” that is, adjusting for “out-of-pocket rent” and “adjusted household income,” they pay more than 30 percent of income in rent.
  • About half of rent-burdened households are “severely rent burdened,” paying more than 50 percent of income in rent.
  • 94 percent of these severely rent-burdened households are low income. 2
  • Singles are the most numerous household type among the low-income severely burdened (43 percent of the total). Single households have the highest incidence of severe rent burden (25 percent), followed closely by single parents (24 percent).
  • Looking at the age breakdown within these groups, however, shows the group most severely burdened is single seniors, 32 percent of whom pay more than half of their income in rent.
  • A quarter of the tenant households in Queens are low-income severely burdened, the highest rate among all boroughs.

“This analysis reveals a new picture of the rent burden in New York City,” said CBC President Carol Kellermann. “It’s a picture that should inform future policies aimed at addressing the problem.”

“Particular attention should be paid to the needs of single seniors and single parents,” said CBC Co-Research Director Michael Dardia. “They are the ones most burdened by rent in New York City.”

This policy brief is the latest in a series of housing-related publications produced by the Citizens Budget Commission. Others in the series are: