Study: Housing Costs Out of Reach for Many Hudson Valley Renters

Real Estate In-Depth | July 19, 2021

Source: Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress’ Center for Housing Solutions

NEWBURGH—Affordably priced housing continues to be out of reach for many Hudson Valley residents as rents are rising faster than wages, making the gap between what people can afford to pay and what it costs to rent in the region even wider, according to an analysis of data by Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress’ Center for Housing Solutions.

An examination of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual “Out of Reach” report released on Friday shows that renters in all nine Hudson Valley counties in Pattern’s footprint 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 example, the average hourly wage for renters is $12.14. At that wage, a worker could only afford a monthly rent payment of $631, yet the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Rockland is $2,053. To close this $1,422 gap, a renter would have to work 130 hours a week to afford the apartment.

“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 and Community Initiatives. “The people we count on every day who are working in healthcare, 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.”

The average monthly gap in the Hudson Valley is $826 per month, which is a $38 increase over the 2020 average. Rockland and Putnam County show the largest affordability gap per month, while Sullivan and Columbia have the smallest gap of $431 and $438 per month, respectfully. A household in Rockland and Putnam County essentially requires three full-time jobs at the renter wage rate to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent.

According to the report, the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Orange County in Fiscal Year 2021 was $1,467, an increase of $70 or 5% from a year earlier. The FMR for a two-bedroom unit in Putnam County and Rockland County in 2021 was $2,053, which increased $102 or 5.2% from 2020. The FMR for a two-bedroom apartment in Sullivan County rose $32 or 3.2% from last year to $1,032. Westchester County saw a slight decline in its Fair Market Rent rate for two-bedroom apartment, falling $32 or 1.6% to $1,943.

The Center for Housing Solutions has been analyzing rental housing and wage data, and providing statistics and trends to help communities, developers, builders and non-profit agencies plan and construct housing that is affordable in the Hudson Valley region.

Its analysis of the latest “Out of Reach” data shows that although there have been some increases in the renters’ wage rates and some declines in the fair market rents, overall, the monthly affordability gap for rental housing has not shown any significant decline.

Source: Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress’ Center for Housing Solutions

Many luxury rental housing complexes under construction in the Hudson Valley include studios, and one and two-bedroom apartments that rent from between $1,600 to $2,500 per month in the Mid-Hudson area and much higher in the lower Hudson Valley. However, there is an insufficient supply of workforce housing, especially in areas close to employment centers.

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

He continued, “The pandemic has only exacerbated these affordability issues as the housing inventory has essentially dried up.”

The Center for Housing Solutions stated that it believes it is critical that federal housing programs like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME program continue to be funded. These federal programs combined with state housing resources and local incentives are vital to developers of affordable housing. The programs are also essential for down payment and closing cost assistance for first time homebuyers, and help for existing homeowners to remain in their homes who may need a new roof, boiler or insulation.

Link to Fair Market Rent Chart (jpg)

Link to Monthly Rent Gap Chart (jpg)