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Our soaring suburban rents!

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis  March 12, 2013 07:00 AM

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The Bay State's small towns and suburbs are the most expensive in the country for renters, a new report finds.

You'll need to pull down more than $31 an hour to afford a two bedroom rental in towns and suburbs beyond the state's urban metros, such as Boston and Worcester, the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds in its annual report on housing affordability, or lack thereof.

That's more than $62,000 a year, even more than you would need to afford an apartment in suburban and rural areas in other notoriously high cost states like Hawaii and Maryland.

We also boast the most expensive county for renters in the country - Nantucket. You'll need to make more than $36 an hour, or $72,000 a year, to afford the average two-bedroom on the island, beating out the likes of Honolulu, San Mateo, San Francisco and Marin counties.

Overall, you'll need to pull down just over $50,000 in order to afford the average two-bedroom in Massachusetts, which rents out for $1,251.

So what's to be done?

The policy wonks at NLIHC contend we need more subsidized housing given the big gap between what many renters earn and ever pricier rents.

Here's a graph from the nonprofits annual Out of Reach report.

Housing costs vary across the nation, but the lack of affordable housing affects low-wage workers in all corners of the country. In order to close the gap between the demand for affordable housing and the supply, we would need to add 4.5 million units affordable to ELI (extremely low income) households. This is not an unattainable goal. Once funded, the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) would provide states with the dollars they need to expand the stock of housing that is affordable to ELI households.

Fair point, but what about unchaining the power of the private market as well? Here the problem isn't so much federal or even state red tape as NIMBY local officials, fearful of any housing that's not gold plated and seeing families with school age children - especially those not particularly well off - as some sort of blight on the school budget.

Even mainly market rate projects that include a few subsidized units can spark all sorts of ridiculous misconceptions and hysteria in the suburbs here in Greater Boston.


This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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