When Paying Rent Means Going Hungry

David R. Jones

This op-ed was originally published in the New York Daily News on June 21, 2012

The NYC Rent Guidelines Board on Thursday night will again hold its annual final hearings, pitting tenants against landlords as it decides on increases in stabilized rents. But this year, the stakes are higher.

According to a just-released report by the Community Service Society of New York, median rents in the private market have been increasing since 2005, both before and after the recession, posting a net gain of 31% by 2011.

During the same time, New York renters experienced a gain of only 18% in their median incomes. Renter incomes peaked through 2008, during the good economic times, then flattened and fell off after the recession hit.

This is a recipe for wrenching belt-tightening among tenants throughout the city. For low-income renters — many of whom rely on the private rental market, and largely on regulated apartments — a bad situation just got worse. Their portion of income going toward rent has grown steadily, leaving households with less remaining income to meet other needs.

The Community Service Society estimates that between 2005 and 2011, median rent burdens rose rapidly for low-income tenants who don’t live in subsidized housing or hold federal rent vouchers...


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