TODAY'S PAPER
Good Evening
Good Evening
Long Island

Census survey shows Long Island’s high housing costs

An aerial view of Levittown on April 18,

An aerial view of Levittown on April 18, 2015. Credit: Kevin Coughlin

Long Island’s chronically high housing costs were underscored in U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday that show nearly 40 percent of homeowners with a mortgage spent 35 percent or more of their household income for housing — much higher than experts say is financially prudent.

In addition, Nassau and Suffolk counties were among 171 counties nationwide where monthly median housing costs for homeowners with a mortgage were greater than $1,750, according to data in the Census Bureau’s 2010-2014 American Community Survey estimates.

In Nassau, the monthly median was $3,123 for the five-year period, and in Suffolk, that figure was $2,776, according to the survey’s estimates.

In Nassau, 38.0 percent of homeowners with a mortgage in 2010-2014 spent 35 percent or more of their income on housing costs, while in Suffolk that figure stood at 37.6 percent. For both Nassau and Suffolk homeowners without a mortgage, just over a quarter of them spent 35 percent or more of their household income on housing costs during the five-year period.

The financial hit was even larger for Long Islanders living in rented housing, the survey revealed. Forty-eight percent of Nassau renters and 50 percent of Suffolk renters spent 35 percent or more of their household income on gross rent.

Nassau and Suffolk were among 6 percent of the nation’s counties where median gross rents exceeded $1,000 per month. In Nassau, the median gross rent in 2010-2014 was $1,559, and in Suffolk it was $1,519, according to the survey.

Federal housing policy and various financial guides suggest housing costs should not exceed 28 percent to 30 percent of income.

The bureau’s data release Thursday marked the first time that two, nonoverlapping five-year data sets — the 2010-2014 survey and the 2005-2009 survey — can be compared, census officials said.

For example, a comparison of 2005-2009 median household income on the Island with that of 2010-2014 showed a decline in median income after inflation was factored in.

In 2010-2014, Nassau had an estimated median income of $98,401, a decrease from an inflation-adjusted $102,012 in 2005-2009, according to survey data analyzed by Newsday. Suffolk’s median income in 2010-2014 was $88,323, down from an inflation-adjusted $93,273 in 2005-2009.

Median household income on the Island remains far higher than the national median of $53,482.

Census officials said 991 counties nationwide saw a decrease in median household income, and 187 saw an increase when the two five-year periods were compared. The bureau said there was no statistically significant change in median incomes for 1,964 counties.

The American Community Survey, which queries 3.5 million people annually, replaced the decennial census long form, helping to identify social and economic trends on a more frequent basis, census officials said.

Before the bureau began the American Community Survey in 2005, information about population changes and other social and economic characteristics taking place across the nation came only from the once-a-decade census long form.

“The American Community Survey is how America knows what America needs,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said in a statement. “Today, it is the premier source of statistics for anyone needing detailed local information for small towns, neighborhoods and communities both rural and urban.”

The survey collects a wide range of demographic, social, economic and housing characteristics of the nation, including education, employment status, sex and racial/ethnic origin. The five-year survey provides estimates down to the smallest geographic areas and population groups.

Latest Long Island News