Boston’s Median Rent Higher Than New York City

by Mike Pugh

According to new study, Boston’s median rent is higher than New York City’s


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According to a study by New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, Boston had the nation’s third highest median rent in 2013. Only Washington D.C. and San Francisco were higher. The study found that Boston’s median rent was $1,263 in 2013, slightly above that of New York City’s median rent of $1,228.

Many factors were at play with the changing of rents, the most obvious of which is rent-control. The Associated Press reported that one million apartments in New York City are rent-controlled, something that, Boston officials noted, their city does not have.

“Rent control is not a tool that is available, as it was rendered illegal by a statewide referendum in 1992,” said Lisa Pollack, spokeswoman for Mayor Marty Walsh’s Department of Neighborhood Development.

Changing Demographics Drive Boston Rent Increases

Affordability has been a reoccurring problem for Boston. In 2013, 50.6 percent of renters committed at least 30 percent of their income to rent (up from 41.7 percent of renters in 1990), and 26.3 percent of renters committed at least 50 percent (up from 19.6 percent of renters in 1990). Driving those increases is the shifting demographics of Boston’s rental market, which has seen single-person households rise from 10.9 percent of the market in 1950 to 27.5 percent in 2013, and four-plus person households fall from a 40.2-percent peak in 1960 to 23 percent.

Such a contrast places considerable pressure on housing demand, one that Boston has not been able to meet. Thus, Mayor Walsh recently announced an ambitious affordable housing plan to address the problem, with the end goal of adding thousands of affordable housing units to Boston’s market; according to a quarterly report released last month, the city is on track to meet the goal by 2030.

On a more positive note for Boston, the rent-change to income-change ratio is keeping pace. Rents rose 4 percent, while incomes rose 15 percent, one of the best in the nation. Meanwhile, New York City saw rents increase by 12 percent with no change in income level.

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