While wages have been rising in most of the counties that encompass the Hudson Valley region, rental housing costs are rising at an even faster pace, according to a data analysis released by the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress’ Center for Housing Solutions.
In culling statistics from the recent “Out of Reach” report issued by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the new data show significant mismatches between the average hourly wage and the cost of a two-bedroom apartment. The most significant gap is in Rockland County, where the average monthly rent of a two-bedroom apartment is $1,831, but the average hourly wage for renters is $10.98. The new study estimates that a worker could only afford a monthly rent payment of $571 based on the county’s average hourly wage.
Although most of the region recorded hourly wage rate increases from 2018 to 2019 – the only declines were in Greene and Rockland counties at 1.1% and 1.3% – the two-bedroom fair market rent during this period only declined in Columbia County, and that was just a $15 year-over-year drop. Westchester saw the greatest rent hike at $88 per month, or a 5.2% increase, followed by Ulster with a $55 a month rent hike, or a rise of 4.8%.
“The bottom line is that rents are simply unaffordable for the people we count on every day,” said Joe Czajka, senior vice president of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress and the executive director of the Center for Housing Solutions. “Many people working in health care, like home health aides and personal care aides, as well as janitors, laborers, waitresses, 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.”