Development

Almost half of all renters in Charlotte are ‘cost-burdened,’ study says

The SkyHouse apartment tower (foreground) and Vue apartments (background).
The SkyHouse apartment tower (foreground) and Vue apartments (background). tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

A new study shows that almost half of renters in Charlotte are paying more than 30 percent of their gross income for rent, making them “cost-burdened” under the most widely accepted definition of housing affordability.

That’s roughly in line with the average nationwide, according to the study by apartment-tracking firm Abodo. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey, the company looked at the top 100 rental markets in the nation.

Here’s one surprising thing: Despite 48 percent of renters in Charlotte meeting the definition of “cost-burdened,” that only puts Charlotte as the city with the 65th-highest proportion of renters paying more than 30 percent of their income for rent. That points to how many tenants nationwide are spending a large percentage of their income on rent.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale market had the highest percentage of renters paying more than 30 percent of their income every month, Abodo found: nearly 64 percent. Honolulu was next, at 59.2 percent, followed by the Daytona Beach area, with 58.8 percent.

$1,052Current average rent in Charlotte

$780Average rent in Charlotte five years ago

As you might expect, being cost-burdened is highly correlated to income. Almost all renters making less than $20,000 were cost-burdened, the study found, as were the vast majority of those making $20,000 to $34,999.

For example, the researchers found:

“As salaries increase beyond $35,000, fewer renters are cost-burdened, as renters in the upper three categories grow closer and surpass area median income figures. In Orlando, for instance, where 93.49% of renters making less than $20,000 are cost-burdened, only 45.05% of those making between $35,000 and $49,000 — the range that contains the area median income of $48,343 — spend more than 30% of their income on rent. Only 11.85% of earners in the next bracket ($50,000–$74,999) do, and a mere 3.24% of those making $75,000 and up are cost-burdened.”

The Abodo study is in line with two other studies last year of Charlotte renters who are cost-burdened. Those studies found that 46 percent of renters in Charlotte are cost-burdened, a nearly identical result.

Housing affordability has become a political issue in Charlotte, with advocates highlighting socioeconomic disparities in the wake of sometimes-violent protests following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott. Charlotte City Council has pledged to create or preserve 5,000 affordable housing units over the next three years.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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