When Buying A Home Is Too Costly And The Rent Is Too Damn High
by GENE DEMBY
Jimmy McMillan ran for governor of New York State in 2010 as the candidate from the Rent is 2 Damn High party. (Party platform: The rent is too damn high!) The cost of renting a home is swallowing an ever-larger portion of Americans’ incomes.
Kathy Kmonicek/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Back in 1995, more than half of all people of color rented their homes — almost twice the proportion of white renters. Then the Clinton Administration pushed policies to bolster homeownership rates and those numbers began a gradual, decade-long decline. The number of people of color renting fell below 50 percent. This coincided with an increased willingness by lenders to extend credit including to subprime borrowers.
But after the housing market imploded those rental rates began creeping up again across the board as unemployment increased, new credit dried up and banks foreclosed on bad mortgages. Others who previously might have bought homes now feared for their jobs or saw ownership as too much of a risk in a tanking market.
According to a new report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, a growing number of Americans are currently facing a different kind of housing crunch. Now not only is homeownership out of reach (given lender requirements for larger down payments) but the monthly rent swallows ever-larger portions of their paychecks.