Housing Costs Remain Out Of Reach For Many

NEWBURGH – For years, Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress and its Center for Housing Solutions have been analyzing rental housing and wage data and publicizing information about key trends to assist communities, developers, builders and non-profit agencies plan and construct affordable housing in the Hudson Valley region. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released its annual “Out of Reach” report this week, and Pattern has provided an analysis of the report as it relates to the Hudson Valley.

The picture shown by the data is concerning. In all nine of the Hudson Valley’s counties, renters would have to work far more than a full time job in order to afford the cost of a two-bedroom apartment. In Rockland County, for instance, the average hourly wage for renters is $11.13. At that wage, a worker could only afford a monthly rent payment of $579, yet the average monthly rent of a two-bedroom apartment in Rockland is $1,789. To close this $1,210 gap, a renter would have to work 124 hours a week.

“The bottom line is that rents are simply unaffordable for the people we count on every day,” said Joe Czajka, Senior Vice President of Pattern and the Executive Director of the Center for Housing Solutions. “Many people working in healthcare – like home health aides and personal care aides–as well as janitors and cleaners, laborers, waiters, waitresses and those in food prep and service, retail clerks and people working in warehouses, are finding it nearly impossible to afford housing without going into debt or cutting back on other essentials.”

“The monthly rent gap is enormous and with increases in health care costs, transportation and other everyday expenses – there is little room for savings and not much disposable income – which impacts many sectors of the economy and especially the health of our main streets and downtowns,” added Czajka.

Pattern’s analysis shows that although there have been some increases in the renters wage rates and some declines in the fair market rents – overall – the monthly gap for rental housing has not shown any significant decline. There are many luxury rental housing complexes under construction in the Hudson Valley. Most of these complexes include exclusively studios, and one and two bedroom apartments, renting at around $1,500 to $2,100 per month in the Mid-Hudson area and nearly double those rents in the lower Hudson Valley, but rental family housing (with three or more bedrooms) is simply not being constructed in any numbers. There is an insufficient supply of workforce housing – especially in areas close to employment centers.

The Center for Housing Solutions believes that it is critical that federal housing programs like CDBG and HOME continue to be funded. These programs provide vital incentives for builders of affordable apartments, down payment and closing cost assistance for first time homebuyers and assistance for existing homeowners who may need a new roof, boiler or insulation.

Summing up the conclusions of the analysis, Czajka said, “Although there have been some increases in the renters wage rates and some declines in the fair market rents, the big pictures is that the monthly gap for rental housing has not shown any significant decline.”

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