Hudson Valley Region Renters and Homeowners Struggle with Affordability

John Jordan | June 2019

ALBANY—The affordable housing crisis continues in New York State, according to a report released on June 6 by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The report stated that nearly 1.4 million households paid half or more of their income in 2017 towards housing costs.

“The high cost of housing can force some New Yorkers to go without basic necessities or to be evicted. This is a problem that hurts renters and homeowners across the state who can’t stretch their dollars far enough,” DiNapoli said. “Unaffordable housing undermines New Yorkers’ living standards and quality of life and damages the state’s economic health.”

Housing affordability measures look at levels of income compared to housing costs. Housing is generally considered affordable when it consumes less than 30% of household income.

In 2017, New York ranked third highest among states in the nation for both the percentage of renters, 26.6% or 900,000 households, and homeowners, 12.4% or 500,000 households, deemed to be severely burdened by housing costs that consumed half or more of their income, according to U.S. Census data.

“New Yorkers are more likely than residents of the United States as a whole to grapple with issues of affordable housing,” the report stated.” In the state, 37.8% of all households were above the affordability threshold, and 19.0% faced severe cost burdens, compared to 30.7% and 14.0% nationally, in 2017.

The report found that from 2008 to 2017, median household income for the state’s renters rose 2.5%, while rent increased almost 13%, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Homeowners are faring better than renters when it comes to affordability trends, according to the State Comptroller report. Those with housing costs above the affordability threshold fell from 34.5% (in 2008) to 27.5% (in 2017). Still, almost 1.1 million homeowners paid housing costs that were 30% or more of their income.

Almost the entire HGAR region came in at above 50% in the category of rental households with rents above the affordability threshold (30% of income) from 2013-2017 and above 30% for homeowners above the affordability threshold during that same period.

Rockland had the highest proportion of rental households with housing costs at least 30% of income in all of New York State at 59.4%, followed by the Bronx (57.7%), Greene (57.5%), Suffolk (56.1%), Tompkins (54.8%) and Ulster (54.7%) counties. Hamilton County had the lowest percentage at 29.2%.

Other counties in the HGAR market area came in at Westchester (52%), Putnam (51.7%), Orange (54.3%) and Sullivan County (42.6%).

In comparison, the highest proportions of homeowners paying 30% or more of income for (purchase) housing from 2013 to 2017 were located in Kings (40.4%), Suffolk (39.1%), Queens (39.0%), Rockland (38.5%), Bronx (37.4%) and Nassau (37.2%) counties. The counties of Cortland and Chemung were the lowest at 16.4%.

Other counties in the HGAR market area posted the following percentages of homeowners paying 30% or more of income for (purchase) housing from 2013 to 2017: Westchester (34.2%), Putnam (35.1%), Orange (33.9%) and Sullivan (31.7%).

While there are some counties upstate that have rental and purchase housing affordability issues, most of the top areas are located in New York City and the Hudson Valley.

“Four of five counties within New York City (Kings, Queens, Bronx and Richmond) were within the top 10 for homeowners exceeding both the affordability and severely housing-cost burdened thresholds,” the report stated. “Both counties on Long Island—Nassau and Suffolk—and four of the seven counties in the Hudson Valley were also in the top 10.”

In terms of the percentage of rental households that are under a severe housing cost burden of paying 50% or more of their median income, counties in the Hudson Valley were among the highest in the state with Rockland again at number one at 36.3%. Other Hudson Valley counties among the highest statewide included the Bronx at 33.1% and Orange County at 30.0%. Westchester came in at 28.2%, Putnam at 24.9% and Sullivan at 23.2%.

The percentage of homeowners in the HGAR market area paying 50% or more of their median income for housing were: the Bronx 19.4%; Rockland 17.0%; Westchester 15.7%; Putnam, 14.5%; Orange 13.9% and Sullivan 12.8%.

Kings County came in at number one in this dubious category statewide at 21.8%, followed by Queens at 19.8%.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth