By Linda O’Flanagan
A new study by the Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) has found that New York City is among the cheapest big city’s to live in the Us.
In fact, it’s the third most affordable city for a typical household, behind Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. And it’s all thanks to the MTA.
“This report highlights the extraordinary value and importance of public transit in New York City,” said Charles Brecher, CBC’s Consulting research dDirector.
“It’s the MTA that makes New York City more affordable, and New Yorkers should recognize the importance of adequately maintaining and funding our public transit system.ˮ
The CBC report is the second in a series of policy briefs analyzing the affordability of housing in New York City compared to other major U.S. cities.
The first, issued last week, examined housing costs alone. The second looks at affordability when both housing and transportation costs (usually the second-largest household cost after housing) are considered relative to income.
The report uses a tool created by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) called the Location Affordability Index (LAI); it measures an area’s housing and transportation costs relative to income.
The report uses the HUD data to compare costs for a “typical” household in New York City to those in 21 other cities chosen because they are among the 15 largest by population or the central cities of the 15 largest metropolitan areas by population.
Looking at each of the three factors individually, the data indicate that for a typical household:
• New York City ranks sixth by regional income ($63,915);
• New York City is the seventh-costliest housing market, with annual typical rent of $14,700; and
• New York City has the lowest annual typical transportation costs ($5,752).
When two of the three factors – housing and transportation costs – are combined, New York City ranks ninth-lowest among the 22 cities.
This reflects the relatively low transportation costs made possible by extensive public transit. Unlike other cities, the majority (56 percent) of households in New York City do not own a car and the same proportion commute by public transit.
In May, Mayor Bill de Blasio released his administration’s affordable housing plan to create 200,000 affordable housing units over the next decade by building 80,000 new units and preserving 120,000 existing units.
It requires a $41.1 billion investment, including $8.2 billion in City funds.
The impressive scale of the plan reflects the seriousness of the problem. However, in its policy statment, the CBC pointed out, “Although the share of households with excessive rent burdens is high in New York, the situation is worse in eight other large cities.
“New York City’s rental market is unique in its large role in the total housing market, and New York City’s housing supply is growing more slowly than in other thriving cities. But despite popular impressions, New York City’s rents are not the highest in the nation.ˮ