Why We’re Advocating for Affordable Housing and Increased Wages

Since 2008, median rents rose 8.8 percent from just over $1,000 to nearly $1,100 in 2012. At the same time, the average household in 2012 made about $4,000 or 7.1 percent less than the average household in 2008.

A recent USA Today article highlighted that, in New York State, a worker earning minimum wage would need to work about 124 hours per week in order to afford rent. That’s the equivalent of about three full-time (40 hours per week) jobs.

This estimate, from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, is based on the fair market rate a New Yorker would pay for a two-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30% of their income on rent. When you consider that the market rate for a two bedroom in New York City is about 11% higher than the statewide rate, a minimum-wage earner in NYC would have to work even more — 138 hours per week — to afford rent and other necessities.

For this reason, our Recommendations to Make New York City a Better Place for Every Child call for the new City Administration to take a number of concrete actions to lift the wage floor and make housing more affordable.

Housing affordability in New York has been a growing concern since the recession began in late 2007. As you can see in the Keeping Track data in the chart above, rental costs in New York City are rising, while at the same time, the average household is earning significantly less. In light of these trends, it’s not surprising that many New Yorkers are spending much more than 30% of their income on rent. In 2012, 28.5 percent of renter households spent more than half of their income on rent.

In many communities, such as University Heights in the Bronx, Borough Park in Brooklyn, and Jackson Heights in Queens, well over one third of renters spend at least half of their income on rent.

Fortunately, the City has already taken important steps consistent with the priorities laid out in our recommendations. The City has committed to building or preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years and to requiring new developers to set aside low and moderate income housing units in their developments. The Administration and the City Council are leading efforts to increase the minimum wage and expand sick leave in New York City and they have undertaken joint advocacy at the State level to create a viable rent subsidy program for homeless families.

Our recommendations also identify ways in which to increase the earning power and employment opportunities of the working poor and cash assistance recipients and help them build savings.  Specifically, we ask the City to use its economic clout to support and create living wage jobs, expand programs that link education and job training to emerging industries, and protect and expand efforts that help New Yorkers get banked, manage debt, and achieve short and long term savings goals.

Know the Facts, Share the Facts and Be Part of the Solution

Learn more about our Recommendations to Make New York City a Better Place for Every Child.

Explore our comprehensive Keeping Track Online database on the well-being of New York City’s children.

You can help raise awareness about these critical issues by sharing this blog on by email or on Facebook and Twitter.


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