The housing market in New York City is brutal. Increases in housing costs outstrip increases in income every year. New York might seem like an outlandish example, but the same is happening in places like Seattle and other growing urban centers.
New York does have one advantage over other places—the city never tore down its old low-income housing.
That’s where ghost tenants come into play. These are people who live in low-income housing off-rent, which is to say that they aren’t on the lease. Because rent in these places is calculated at 30% of the leaseholder’s income, ghost tenants can pay part of that and find housing that they can actually afford provided they have a connection.
But the buildings they’re living in are old and often poorly kept, and they are usually sharing smaller spaces than they’d like to with more people than they would like in their living space.
The issue is one that seems unique to New York, but most likely happens throughout the country, and it’s because of the fact that thee economic recovery has not helped lift all boats.
As property prices rise, so do rents, but income hasn’t been keeping pace, so more and more people are struggling to make ends meet. In growing markets like Seattle’s rent can take up far more than 30% of a person’s income.
There have been a lot of articles around the Internet about these problems, about millennials living with roommates well into their 30s and so on, but they rarely address the fact that these kinds of situations are not ideal for people, especially those that wish to raise their own families.
An argument could be made that Americans are too concerned about having their own space, and plenty of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for people to have to compromise their own safety or mental health in order to afford to stay off the streets.
Housing rights are important, and they need to be addressed.