• The Rochesterian in Your Inbox:

    Join 642 other subscribers

for rent


There are growing signs the rent is too damn high in Rochester.

A previous post reported that more than half of Rochester’s renters pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing. That’s considered burdened. Nearly a third of renters are paying more than half their incomes on housing. That’s considered severely burdened.

There are several recent reports showing affordable rental housing is an issue here.

Rents On Way Up

The Buffalo News reported rents in Rochester have risen 7.2 percent in the last three years, to an average rent of $1,154.57. That’s about twice the rate of inflation. This is troubling because many renters have not seen wages grow that much in the last few years. Meantime, the median home price is up only 3.3 percent since 2012.

The Buffalo News speculates rising rents, which are happening across Upstate, are the result of a stabilizing population and new jobs. Many Millennials and empty-nesters do not want to own homes, preferring the flexibility of renting. Many younger people cannot afford to own a home, especially amid tighter lending restrictions.

The Poor Hard Hit

The Urban Institute came out with a study showing there are not enough housing units for extremely low-income households. These are households of four earning no more than $20,000.

The UI found there are only 22 “affordable, adequate and available” apartments for every 100 extremely low-income household. There are more than 35,000 such households in Monroe County. This data includes federal housing subsidies.

Fewer Owning Homes

The census released a fact sheet on Rochester housing in 2013. It shows 64 percent of units were owner-occupied. That’s way down from 74 percent in 2007.

The fact sheet also shows a vacancy rate of 8.2 percent for all units. It’s interesting rents are on the way up with so many vacancies. The question is where are these vacant units. They are not in places in demand, apparently.

Another interesting thing about the fact sheet: The largest category of renters are people 35 to 44 years old.

In conclusion, there seems to be a shift in the local housing market, with more people renting. There also appears to be a shortage of desirable apartments.

Graphic of Day:


Rochester Metro, U.S. Census, 2013

Rochester Metro, U.S. Census, 2013


Links of the Day:


– The owners of Victoire and Murphy’s Law plan to convert Irondequoit library into a restaurant.

– What a life: William B. Konar, Holocaust survivor, successful and generous, dies at 85.

– Why South Carolina’s Confederate flag isn’t at half-mast after church shooting (and why they have one at all).

City of Rochester Communications Burear

City of Rochester Communications Burear

A new report shows you have to earn $13.17 an hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Rochester. You have to earn $16.04 to afford a two-bedroom, two full-time jobs for a minimum wage earner.

The analysis comes from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. To come up with the Housing Wage, NLIHC used HUD’s Fair Market Rent data and stipulated rent and utilities can be no more than 30 percent of income.

One-third of Monroe County households are renters, who earn an average wage of $11.33 an hour. An affordable rent for this person is $589. But two-bedrooms in Monroe County rent for $834. This person would have to work 1.4 jobs to make ends meet.

I thought this study was interesting in light of the debate over including some affordable housing at the Port of Rochester. These types of units would likely be going to people who live above the poverty line, but face a rent gap.

Rents in Rochester are higher than Syracuse and Buffalo. The Washington Post mapped out the Housing Wage across the country in a nifty interactive.

NLIHC had this to say about the national rental market, and some of it rings true in Rochester:

Only a sliver of the rental market remains affordable and available to the lowest income households. The level of investment in new affordable housing units today is insufficient to meet the demand. Although nearly a third (28%) of renter households live below the federal poverty line and a quarter of renters are ELI (extreme low income), most newly constructed units are for high income households, while older units are being upgraded to serve a higher income market.

Do you pay more than 30 percent of your income in rent?


Links of the Day:


– “We had to throw out all of our ideas of what a Wegmans looked like.” A smaller Wegmans opens in Newton, Massachusetts on Sunday.

– Wegmans is expanding into the Richmond, Virginia market.

– Nicole Wegman will open a liquor store outside of a Wegmans in Amhert, Erie County. That is sparking the familiar claims Wegmans is getting around state liquor laws.

– Bob Duffy came in dead last on an Albany power list.

– Rochester does really well on a 100-city survey of airfare.

A casino 50 miles from Manhattan? That will most certainly spur the tourism Upstate the governor promised. (NOT.)

– An FCC proposal could end net neutrality as we know it. That means some Internet sites could be faster if they pay service providers.

– This doesn’t happen often. Someone called for a portion of the Lake Ontario State Parkway to be shut down because few people use it.

– Lovely Warren made a video about her first 100 days:


Tweet of the Day:


The number of renters is creeping up in Monroe County.

Census figures show a decline in the rate of home ownership:

  • 2008: 68 percent
  • 2009: 67 percent
  • 2010: 66 percent
  • 2011: 64 percent

In 2011, the largest category of mortgages, encompassing 37 percent of households, cost between $1,000 and $1,499 a month. One out of five homeowners has a mortgage that costs more than 35 percent of their income.

One-third of renters pay between $750 and $999 a month. The rate of renters paying more than 35% of their income for rent has gone up:

  • 2009: 43 percent
  • 2010: 47 percent
  • 2011: 51 percent

That indicates many renters are struggling to pay the bills.

Links of the Day:

– Wegmans is acquiring two houses adjacent to its Mt. Read store. Many think it will be a liquor store.

– MCC is going to be hard-pressed to leave a renovated Sibley Building with a brand new bus station built out back.

– An ongoing panhandler fight over a Syracuse corner may have led to the killing of a homeless Syracuse woman.

– The Thruway hot dog wars have begun. Hofmann’s out of Syracuse is seeking to go national, but Buffalo insists it will remain loyal to Sahlen’s. Not mentioned: Zweigle’s.

A study from Trulia shows it is cheaper to buy than rent in the 100 largest metropolitan areas of the United States:

With a 20% down payment, a 30-year fixed mortgage rate at 3.5% and at the 25% federal tax bracket, homeownership is cheaper than renting in all of the 100 largest metros by a wide margin. There is no market where the financial decision is even close, so long as you plan to stay in the home for at least seven years, get 3.5% mortgage, and itemize your tax deductions. However, how much cheaper it is to buy a home than to rent really depends a LOT on where you live.

In Rochester, the study found the monthly cost of home ownership is $790, while the monthly cost to rent is $1,358. Trulia based monthly costs on the average across all properties, for sale and for rent. Home ownership costs include mortgage, maintenance, insurance, property taxes, closing costs and other costs. Renting costs included rent, security deposit and insurance.

I think those rental figures are high. The 2010 census shows only 27.9 percent of housing units with a mortgage had monthly housing costs below $1,000. Only 18.1 percent of rental units cost more than $1,000 a month.

Buying a home has tax advantages and builds equity, but it’s far more economical for me to rent, according to numerous calculators. Try this one.

Links of the Day:

– Chicago teachers and the school district have reached an agreement in principal and teachers could be back to work on Monday.

– Kodak may abandon its patent sale, meaning the scramble for cash is on.

– Fuji is getting out of the motion picture film business, which is a boost for Kodak.

– In Rochester and elsewhere, doctors are “firing” parents of patients who refuse to get vaccines.