The Real Deal New York

Zero NYC nabes are affordable for people making $8.75 an hour

Want to live in the city on minimum wage? Good luck!

September 08, 2015 03:55PM
By Konrad Putzier

Fast food workers protesting in Midtown Manhattan in November 2012 (credit: Labornotes)

Fast food workers protesting in Midtown Manhattan in November 2012 (credit: Labornotes)

As New York City struggles with a reported spike in homelessness, here’s a statistic to keep in mind: exactly zero neighborhoods in the five boroughs are affordable for people making minimum wage, according to a new report by listings site StreetEasy.

Workers making the minimum wage of $8.75 per hour have nowhere to go if they want a neighborhood where the median rent would eat up less than 40 percent of their income (StreetEasy’s definition of affordability). Even if the state follows the recommendation of a governor-appointed panel and raises the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15, they could afford only one neighborhood: Throgs Neck in the Bronx.

Workers need to make $21.26 per hour to afford the Bronx’s median rent and $44.60 to afford the median rent in Manhattan.

Unsurprisingly, Central Park South is the priciest neighborhood. Its residents need to make at least $85.07 per hour to afford the rent. Put differently: someone making minimum wage would have to work 389 hours per week to afford a place there. Tribeca at $79.93 per hour, Dumbo at $58.84 and Flatiron at $60.25 are also bastions of unaffordability.

Of course, just because minimum wage isn’t enough to cover a neighborhood’s median rent doesn’t mean there are no affordable apartments. For example, neighborhoods like Fort Greene have a high median rent, but also a large number of low-rent apartments. Still, the report highlights the argument – often made by RXR Realty’s Seth Pinsky – that low wages are just as much a part of New York’s affordability crisis as high rents.