The housing market in the New York City seems to be in support of the increasing popular notion of “America’s disappearing middle class.” While new developments have been focused in the high-end market and government’s rental subsidies have largely catered for the low and very-low income groups, the middle class is left out. Their income is too high to qualify for low-income housing, but nowhere even close to afford a decent apartment in the city. Owning for most people, with the amount of cash down payment required, is out of the question.

Decades ago, the lack of assistance would have made sense, as housing in New York was once affordable. But over the past 15 years, middle class New Yorkers have gradually been squeezed out of their homes, for some the only homes they have known their entire lives, further and further away from the “hot” neighborhoods into the dreadful unknown. Transplants find themselves crammed up in tiny spaces or dreaming of the Greenwich Village but being only able to afford to live an hour away.

While the FMR (fair-market rent) in New York County for a one-bedroom apartment stays at $1,215, average Manhattan rent is at a whooping $3,861 in 2014, over 3 times of what should be affordable. When half of the paycheck goes toward rent in some cases, there is not much left for everyday necessities, let alone fancy items such as a retirement plan or emergency funds. That hardly sounds anything middle class.

When we hear the term “affordable housing,” we tend to picture poor tenants. In reality, now more than ever before, the struggling middle class needs housing assistance, because the outcry “the rent is too damn high” has become all too common. Substantial subsidies might be unrealistic in the short run when even the temporary rent freeze proposal by mayor Blasio was turned down. However, in order for the urban middle class to lead sustainable lives and grow, affordable housing programs specifically for them need to be designed and implemented.

Sources:

http://www.novoco.com/tenant/rentincome/calculator/z4.jsp
http://www.mns.com/manhattan_rental_market_report
Image source: http://yournextneighborhood.com/greenwich-village-overview.html
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