Chenango County’s Rentals Cost More Than The Average Renter Can Afford

By: Zachary Meseck

CHENANGO COUNTY – According to a New York Comptroller's report on housing affordability, almost half the state's rental households, and more than one in four homeowners, face housing costs which are above the state's affordability threshold.

The report states that 41.4 percent of people renting homes in Chenango County are paying above 30 percent of their household income, with 23 percent of renters paying half of their income or more towards housing.

“New York’s rankings among all states for these housing affordability metrics deteriorated for renters and homeowners alike from 2008 to 2017," the report states. “As a result, large numbers of New Yorkers may be forced to limit their spending on basic needs such as food, health care, and education, undermining standards of living and potential for quality of life.”

Chenango United Way Executive Director Elizabeth Monaco said the Asset Limited, Income Restrained, Employed (ALICE) monthly budget puts a family of four at $680 or more per month in rent alone.

The last ALICE report was published in September 2018 and looked at 2016 data. It shows that 33 percent of Chenango County households fall under the ALICE category.

“In Chenango County, that could be considered a low cost. The actual cost is closer to $750 to $900 in rent for a one to two bedroom apartment, not including utilities or heat," said Monaco.

She said the ALICE report uses standardized measurements to calculate the cost of a "bare-bones" household budget in each county in each state, and to quantify the number of households that cannot afford even that.

She added that there has been a three percent increase in Chenango County’s ALICE population since the last report. Combined with 15 percent of households in the county living in poverty, and based on the report about 48 percent of all households in Chenango are not financially stable.

According to Norwich Housing Authority Executive Director Tamara Cobb, the City of Norwich didn't start inspecting United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved apartments until last year, and several apartments in the city have been transformed into multiple smaller apartments.

She said when HUD sets their standards, safety's their number one priority. She added that it’s up to the tenant to choose what apartments they want to live in.

“There have been landlords in the city that turn two bedroom, one bathroom apartments into three bedroom, one bathroom apartments with bathroom tubs turned into shower stalls," said Cobb. “Those sorts of changes will pass the HUD safety standards as long as everything is up to code."

She said her office is entertaining ideas to rank landlords based on rental apartments, and reward the ones who are providing better quality homes for people to live in.

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