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Boston's Soaring Rents

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis June 17, 2014 09:00 AM

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It's not just downtown Boston, with its gleaming new luxury apartment towers, where rents are going bonkers.

The cost of renting is also skyrocketing in neighborhoods long seen as affordable, especially Chinatown, East Boston and Roxbury, a coalition of local community groups contends.

Eastie rents are now rising 12 percent a year, while rents in Roxbury are up 7.4 percent. That's a few of the more disturbing findings in a new report on the local and national rental market just out by a group called Homes For All.

And the Chinatown "zip code" now has the highest percentage of households in Boston making six figures, or so says a press release from the group.

OK, that last one is a little misleading - the postal code for Chinatown clearly includes the Ritz-Carlton towers and other luxury high-rises on Lower Washington Street on what most would consider the neighborhood's borderline. In fact, Lower Washington Street was once ground zero for Boston's old red light district, the Combat Zone, with "adult entertainment," not high-priced apartments and high-brow theaters, the main draw. These days it's part of a revived Theater District, with just one strip club left from the old days.

Still, the rise of millionaire towers literally just across Washington Street from Chinatown clearly points to intense wave of relentless upscaling that is reshaping Boston and frankly many suburbs as well; a recent Cleveland Fed report found 61 percent of Boston's working and lower income neighborhoods have undergone gentrification over the past few years, making the Hub a national leader of sorts.

Here are some other bullet points lifted from the press release touting the report by Homes for All:

  •  According to January MLS data, the average residential real estate rental price for a one-bedroom unit in Boston is presently $2,400, which requires an income of at least $96,000 to afford. Median household income for Boston renters is $38,000.
  • More than 31,000 Boston households that make $50,000 or less pay over half of their income in rent.
  • Between 2006 and 2012, there have been over 4,500 families that have been foreclosed just in the City of Boston. The vast majority of these families have been displaced and pushed into the rental market.
This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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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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