From the APP:
In the years since the Great Recession tumbled housing prices and eviscerated personal incomes, a growing number of Americans have given up their homes and turned to renting.
But as rent increases have outpaced income growth in the U.S., according to a recent Harvard University study, millions of Americans are feeling the financial squeeze.
The pressure is even more pronounced around the Jersey Shore, where a Superstorm Sandy-damaged housing market forced many flooded homeowners to rent inland apartments. The surge in competition for rental properties has driven up prices and left many middle- and lower-income families struggling to afford housing.
In 2013, 43 million Americans rented their homes, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Rentals increased from 31 percent of the nation’s housing stock in 2004 to 35 percent in 2012, researchers found.
As demand rose, the number of rental homes on the market increased by 3.4 million between 2007 and 2011. Most of those — 3 million — were the result of single-family, owner-occupied houses being converted to rentals, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies. At the same time, vacancy rates for rentals dropped from 10.6 percent in 2009 to 8.5 percent in 2013, and net operating income rose between 2010 and 2013, researchers found.
While landlords benefited, renters paid the price.
In 1960, less than 25 percent of renters spent 30 percent or more of their income on rent. But in 2010, 50 percent of renters in the United States paid more than 30 percent of their income in rent, the Joint Center for Housing Studies found. Of those, 27 percent spent 50 percent of their pay on housing, researchers found.
In 2013, an estimated 67 percent of renters living in Ocean County and 64 percent living in Monmouth County could not afford to rent an average two-bedroom apartment, according to the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. Average costs for two-bedroom apartments in both counties were about $1,410 per month, meaning a family would have to earn $56,400 to make the apartment affordable, according to the network’s figures.
“We’ve had a problem for a long time. After Sandy, the problem just got a lot worse,” said Nina Arce, media coordinator for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “We have a very imbalanced housing market. You can find a McMansion no problem, but not many of us can afford those.”