Renters on Long Island are more likely to be "cost...

Renters on Long Island are more likely to be "cost burdened" by housing than renters anywhere else in the state, including New York City, a new report found. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Feverpitched

Long Island renters face the worst housing cost burden anywhere in the state —  even worse than renters in New York City. 

More than half of the region's renters — 51.4% — are considered "cost-burdened," which the federal government defines as paying at least 30% of gross income toward housing costs,  a new report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. That compares with 48.6% of New York City renters and 49.9% of renters in the Mid-Hudson region, which includes Westchester County.

“This serves as a stark reminder of the need to relieve the housing cost burden for Long Islanders,” said Pilar Moya-Mancera, executive director of the Greenlawn-based nonprofit Housing Help.

As a whole, Long Island has fewer people paying 30% or more of their income toward housing costs than other parts of the state because renting is less common here, and homeowners are less likely to be burdened by their housing costs.

Renters make up slightly less than one-fifth of Long Island households compared with two-thirds of New York City households.

Around one-third of Long Island homeowners are considered cost-burdened by the federal measure,  which includes mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance and utilities.

The report, released Wednesday, showed that the gap between the percentage of renters and homeowners whose housing costs take up a large chunk of their income has grown wider since 2010, with fewer owners now stressed by property costs. Renters earning the least tend to be the most likely to face a cost burden.

“For too many New Yorkers, finding and keeping an adequate and affordable place to live has become more and more difficult,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Rising costs are stretching household budgets and forcing trade-offs with other essentials, like food and health care. The consequences of housing insecurity are wide-ranging and while low-income renters are the most cost-burdened, these financial pressures are increasingly felt by middle-class households.”

When including all households — renters and owners — New York City had the greatest percentage of people paying at least 30% of their income toward housing costs, at 43%. Long Island is close behind at 36%, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development collected from 2016 to 2020, which the comptroller's office wrote was the latest reliable data available.  

The percentage of households struggling with housing costs varied by race and ethnicity. Half of Hispanic Long Island households experienced housing insecurity, a category that includes people whose housing costs take up more than 30% of their income, who live in overcrowded households and who lack complete plumbing or kitchen facilities.

Of Black or African American households on Long Island, 45% experienced housing insecurity. The rates were 40% for Asian Long Islanders and 34% for white Long Islanders, according to the report.

About 3,500 Long Islanders were homeless last year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That represents a 12% increase compared with 2010, which is roughly in line with the state as a whole. In New York City, the homeless population increased 66% since 2010 to about 88,000 last year, according to HUD.

To address high housing costs, DiNapoli recommended New York State seek greater federal assistance to expand the number of vouchers it can offer to low-income renters and tax credits for low-income housing developers. He also urged the state to improve the effectiveness of state programs designed to provide housing aid and encourage local governments to support more housing options.

Last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed building 800,000 housing units across the state over the next decade by pushing local governments to approve more housing. In the previous decade, 462,000 units had been built.

Hochul’s initial plan required towns and villages to meet certain housing targets and if they failed to do so, developers could appeal to a state board to override local zoning decisions. That proposal met fierce resistance from suburban lawmakers, including those on Long Island who sought to preserve local control over housing decisions. The plan failed to make it into the final budget.

Instead, the governor has created a program to give communities that demonstrate their past or future commitment to building homes priority in receiving $650 million in state funding. Mineola was the first Long Island community to receive the pro-housing designation last week, one of 20 locations that were certified statewide. The governor said about 60 additional towns and villages in New York had applied. 

DiNapoli suggests the state provide support to local governments willing to review and update their zoning rules, which many communities may not have done in decades. Such updates could eliminate restrictive zoning rules that prevent housing from being built.

The comptroller also recommended continued funding to provide legal representation for low-income households facing eviction.

The statistics weren't a surprise to local housing observers. 

“It’s very well expected. We have a lot of employees who live here on Long Island and many of them struggle to afford rents,” said Ralph Fasano, executive director of Concern Housing, an affordable-housing developer based in Medford. “The affordable housing we do provide is very much in demand. Rents have been going up steadily over the years, so much of the rental housing is unaffordable to people.”

Moya-Mancera said Housing Help hears from about 2,000 people a year who are looking for housing that will be affordable for them, and almost all of those clients would be categorized as rent-burdened. The nonprofit’s clients sometimes prioritize rent over food because they worry about finding another apartment, she said.

She has supported proposals to increase the supply of housing on Long Island, noting the need for affordable housing to attract teachers, health aides and employees for businesses.

“If we don’t solve our housing problem, I don’t know how sustainable Long Island will be,” she said. 

Long Island renters face the worst housing cost burden anywhere in the state —  even worse than renters in New York City. 

More than half of the region's renters — 51.4% — are considered "cost-burdened," which the federal government defines as paying at least 30% of gross income toward housing costs,  a new report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. That compares with 48.6% of New York City renters and 49.9% of renters in the Mid-Hudson region, which includes Westchester County.

“This serves as a stark reminder of the need to relieve the housing cost burden for Long Islanders,” said Pilar Moya-Mancera, executive director of the Greenlawn-based nonprofit Housing Help.

As a whole, Long Island has fewer people paying 30% or more of their income toward housing costs than other parts of the state because renting is less common here, and homeowners are less likely to be burdened by their housing costs.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • More than half of Long Island renters pay at least 30% of their income toward housing, which the federal government considers as "cost burdened," according to a new report from the state comptroller.
  • Long Island has the greatest share of cost-burdened renters of any part of the state, but renting is also less common locally than in any other region.
  • The comptroller recommended the state seek greater federal support and spur local government action to increase the supply of housing. 

Renters make up slightly less than one-fifth of Long Island households compared with two-thirds of New York City households.

Around one-third of Long Island homeowners are considered cost-burdened by the federal measure,  which includes mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance and utilities.

The report, released Wednesday, showed that the gap between the percentage of renters and homeowners whose housing costs take up a large chunk of their income has grown wider since 2010, with fewer owners now stressed by property costs. Renters earning the least tend to be the most likely to face a cost burden.

Long Island renters burdened by housing costs

The map below shows the percentage of renters by region who spend 30% or more of their income on housing across New York, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development averages from 2016 to 2020, the most recent reliable data available. Click on a region for more information.

Source: New York State Comptroller's office

“For too many New Yorkers, finding and keeping an adequate and affordable place to live has become more and more difficult,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Rising costs are stretching household budgets and forcing trade-offs with other essentials, like food and health care. The consequences of housing insecurity are wide-ranging and while low-income renters are the most cost-burdened, these financial pressures are increasingly felt by middle-class households.”

When including all households — renters and owners — New York City had the greatest percentage of people paying at least 30% of their income toward housing costs, at 43%. Long Island is close behind at 36%, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development collected from 2016 to 2020, which the comptroller's office wrote was the latest reliable data available.  

The percentage of households struggling with housing costs varied by race and ethnicity. Half of Hispanic Long Island households experienced housing insecurity, a category that includes people whose housing costs take up more than 30% of their income, who live in overcrowded households and who lack complete plumbing or kitchen facilities.

Of Black or African American households on Long Island, 45% experienced housing insecurity. The rates were 40% for Asian Long Islanders and 34% for white Long Islanders, according to the report.

About 3,500 Long Islanders were homeless last year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That represents a 12% increase compared with 2010, which is roughly in line with the state as a whole. In New York City, the homeless population increased 66% since 2010 to about 88,000 last year, according to HUD.

New housing

To address high housing costs, DiNapoli recommended New York State seek greater federal assistance to expand the number of vouchers it can offer to low-income renters and tax credits for low-income housing developers. He also urged the state to improve the effectiveness of state programs designed to provide housing aid and encourage local governments to support more housing options.

Last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed building 800,000 housing units across the state over the next decade by pushing local governments to approve more housing. In the previous decade, 462,000 units had been built.

Hochul’s initial plan required towns and villages to meet certain housing targets and if they failed to do so, developers could appeal to a state board to override local zoning decisions. That proposal met fierce resistance from suburban lawmakers, including those on Long Island who sought to preserve local control over housing decisions. The plan failed to make it into the final budget.

Instead, the governor has created a program to give communities that demonstrate their past or future commitment to building homes priority in receiving $650 million in state funding. Mineola was the first Long Island community to receive the pro-housing designation last week, one of 20 locations that were certified statewide. The governor said about 60 additional towns and villages in New York had applied. 

DiNapoli suggests the state provide support to local governments willing to review and update their zoning rules, which many communities may not have done in decades. Such updates could eliminate restrictive zoning rules that prevent housing from being built.

The comptroller also recommended continued funding to provide legal representation for low-income households facing eviction.

The statistics weren't a surprise to local housing observers. 

“It’s very well expected. We have a lot of employees who live here on Long Island and many of them struggle to afford rents,” said Ralph Fasano, executive director of Concern Housing, an affordable-housing developer based in Medford. “The affordable housing we do provide is very much in demand. Rents have been going up steadily over the years, so much of the rental housing is unaffordable to people.”

Moya-Mancera said Housing Help hears from about 2,000 people a year who are looking for housing that will be affordable for them, and almost all of those clients would be categorized as rent-burdened. The nonprofit’s clients sometimes prioritize rent over food because they worry about finding another apartment, she said.

She has supported proposals to increase the supply of housing on Long Island, noting the need for affordable housing to attract teachers, health aides and employees for businesses.

“If we don’t solve our housing problem, I don’t know how sustainable Long Island will be,” she said. 

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