Via Brokelyn, we learned today that New York, though always number one in our hearts, is only number six in terms of highest average median rent. Now, obviously, this goes against every single thing we thought to be true about this city of ours, namely that it is the most prohibitively expensive place to live in these United States, and even attempting to eke out a life here—especially on a salary which would be considered respectable elsewhere in the country but is considered laughable in New York—is a Sisyphean task and one that should not be entered into lightly, if, you know, at all.
But, as it turns out, we were wrong! We were all wrong! According to data released by the Citizens Budget Commission, New York is nowhere near the most expensive city in which to rent a place (that would be San Francisco) and it doesn’t even have the most skewed ratio of rent expenditure to income (that would be Miami). Because while New York is a surprising 6th in terms of highest median rent (behind San Fran, San Jose, San Diego, DC, and Boston, of all places), it’s ranks 9th on the list of places with the worst rental affordability, which is determined by how many people spend more than 30% of their income on rent. Of course, it’s not time to celebrate yet (who can afford to throw a party these days anyway? and in what space?), because where New York lags pretty severely behind the rest of the country is in terms of new housing development. Yes, despite the fact that the city seems to be permanently cloaked in scaffolding, it doesn’t seem that too many rental units are actually being built, and certainly not enough to keep up with demand.
So what does this all mean? Ha. Nothing! Despite the fact that the CBC concludes its report with a passive aggressive putdown—”New Yorkers tend to think of themselves and their city as unique; with respect to affordable housing, this view is only partly true” —and implies that because other places have it worse, New Yorkers should just suck it up already and stop pretending to be precious, special snowflakes and appreciate the fact that we have decent public transportation, we’re not buying it. Simply because average rents are a little bit higher elsewhere in the country doesn’t mean that they aren’t inexcusably high here. We should not feel placated by the news that it’s more expensive to live in Boston or that people in Philadelphia pay more of their income toward rent than we do; we should feel incensed that this is a nationwide problem and that the places in this country that offer the most potential in terms of career opportunities and overall quality of life are prohibitively costly.So, yeah, New York might not be number one anymore, but that doesn’t mean our problems are over, not at all. Because with the ongoing overcrowding of the public schools (which, incidentally, have also not been built at a pace to keep up with the population explosion in certain neighborhoods) and the increase in costs of our public transportation system and the strain on and lack of funding for our public resources, to say nothing of the wildly different experiences that New Yorkers have based on their race, ethnicity and socio-economic status, we have to wonder if the quality of life here is even worth paying the 6th highest rent in the country, we really do.
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