Skyrocketing rents across New York City are the primary cause of the homelessness crisis. More and more New Yorkers are straining under the rising cost of living – and many people are just one missed paycheck or one unexpected medical bill away from eviction. The housing affordability gap continues to widen, as incomes have lagged significantly behind housing costs.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach 2015 report, there is not one state in the entire country where a person working full-time at a minimum-wage job can afford a one-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent.
New York State has the fourth-highest housing wage required: In order to afford a one-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent, a minimum-wage employee would have to work 98 hours every week.
And in New York City, a person would need to make $28.48 per hour just to afford a fair market 2-bedroom apartment – far more than the current $8.75 minimum wage.
These disheartening figures partly explain why an increasing number of employed New Yorkers find themselves in the crowded shelter system. An estimated 30 percent of homeless families in NYC have jobs – and the number of employed shelter residents rose 57 percent between 2010 and 2013.
For this reason, the Coalition continues to advocate for housing-based solutions to homelessness in addition to an increase in the minimum wage. The Out of Reach report makes it clear that the current system isn’t working for the many minimum-wage employees across the country – and especially for the hardworking New Yorkers who still experience the trauma of homelessness.