Last week, we received notice that our borough was the least affordable rental market in the country. Many jumped the bandwagon with sensationalist headlines declaring The Bronx as the least affordable rental market in the nation without actually delving into how this came to be.
It’s definitely not because our “rent is too damn high,” but due to the fact that many of our residents barely earn enough to survive.
We already heard earlier this year that we were the most rent burdened borough in NYC but now CNN Money reports, based on data collected from Realty Trac, that Bronxites on average pay 67.57% of their incomes towards rent. That leaves just over 30% to cover for utilities, food, clothing, and other basic necessities.
To illustrate just how bad the situation is in our borough, Baltimore is the second most expensive rental market as per median income in the country with 49.64% of their incomes going towards rent. That places the Bronx almost 20% more burdened. In fact from the top ten list, The Bronx is the undisputed leader since the rest of the list ranges from Los Angeles at 41.95% to Philadelphia at 47.40%.
Many financial guidelines indicate that your rent should never be more than 30% of your income but how are we to achieve that in The Bronx with low paying jobs?
We have a Borough President touting development and a “New” Bronx (a monocker which is considered an insult by many and seen as an attempt to whitewash and re-brand our borough) and is supposedly about job creation but the majority of the jobs he’s been able to produce are low wage jobs in retail and promoting companies like FreshDirect which do not pay fair, living wages.
Instead of working harder at educating our current workforce and provide them with the necessary tools to get better paying jobs, our politicians are focusing too heavily on the retail sector for jobs. Jobs which are not living wage jobs and cannot help the average Bronx family survive.
All the new malls built in the borough creating “jobs” isn’t going to cut it. In 2011, a study reported that the average retail salary in The Bronx was $8 an hour. These jobs were mostly also reported to be part-time and only 3 out of 10 received health insurance (although the later may have changed with the Affordable Healthcare Act).
Such jobs are good for our youth but not good enough for a head of household struggling to make ends meet.
We have thousands of apartments which have been constructed over the last decade and thousands more to come that are listed as “affordable” but they are generally unaffordable to those who live here thus, in most part, will not help alleviate the situation for the average Bronxite but for others across the city instead.
This cycle will continue to push our hardworking residents further and further away from the city’s center and eventually outside of NYC.
He have a housing crisis in the Bronx that cannot simply be fixed or patched up by affordable housing if we are not also uplifting the economic status of our residents.
The Bronx has always been a borough of the working class poor and middle class but that demographic will erode of nothing is done about it.
As Geoffery Mullings, Editor-in-Chief of The Blinker wrote:
“Breaking the ring of despair in the Bronx means ending our tolerance of social stagnation, with tenants surviving each month by a thread. Having a track to socioeconomic success is what Bronxites deserve, especially in the face of such socially engineered stagnation and reasons to despair.”
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