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A key stat from the Furman Center: as housing cost rose, incomes did not

A very important piece of context regarding affordability in New York City is often ignored.

A year ago, on 8/15/16, the Furman Center announced, Report: More Than Half of New York City Homes Unaffordable to the Majority of Households, suggesting that even those earning up to six figures had trouble buying homes in the city:
While roughly half of the city’s households (51%) earn $55,000 or less annually, they could afford just 9% of 2014 home sales. Even households earning up to $114,000 annually could only afford 42% of home sales in New York City. Only 22% of the city’s population earned upwards of $114,000 in 2014.
“Since 1990, incomes have stagnated while the costs of housing—both rental housing and home sales prices—have skyrocketed,” said Mark Willis, Senior Policy Fellow at the NYU Furman Center and co-author of the study. “As a result, there are not enough homes available for purchase at prices affordable to the vast majority of New Yorkers.”
(Emphasis added)

This is stunning:
Between 1990 and 2015, housing prices rose nearly 200 percent for all residential property types, while incomes did not keep pace. Between 2008 and 2011, median household income fell, and then recovered slightly between 2011 and 2014 when it grew by two percent. Still, real median household income in 2014 ($53,063) remained 11 percent lower than its 1990 level ($59,499).


In 2014, the 66 percent of all New York City households earning $83,000 or less could only afford only 22 percent of sales in the city that year.

What are the income ranges?

According to the full report:
  • “Low-Income” households have an annual income of $34,000 or less, or 50 percent of Area Median Family Income (AMFI)
  • “Moderate-Income” households have an annual income between $34,001-$55,000, or 50 percent to less than 80 percent of AMFI
  • “Middle-Income” households have an annual income of $55,001-$83,000, or 80 percent to less than 120 percent of AMFI
  • “NYC-Middle-Income” households have an annual income of $83,001-$114,000, or 120 percent to less than 165 of AMFI
  • “High-Income” households have an annual income above $114,001, or 165 percent of AMFI or greater.
Those are pretty gentle categories, likely based on income figures from a few years ago, because in New York City, the concept of "middle-income" goes well above $114,000.

Indeed, the Furman Center report was issued even as the lottery for the "100% affordable" 535 Carlton rental buildings was ongoing, with half the units going to middle-income households, including four-person households earning $149,490.

Note that Area Median Income, which does incorporate wealthy suburbs, continued to rise, even as incomes in the city stagnated.

Below is from the Furman Center report.


The 535 Carlton configuration


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