A set of parents resort to home remedies when their child has a cold because the copayment at the doctor’s office could be used towards the month’s rent. A single mother broken-heartedly says “no” when her six-year-old child asks to ride the “Happy Swing” at Brooklyn, New York’s very own amusement park, Luna Park. A father says “I will be there” without hesitation while stumbling out of bed with his wife as he receives a phone call at 4 a.m. from his boss asking if he is available to work overtime, having just gotten home at 12 a.m. from his regular afternoon shift at Grand Central Terminal. To a lower income family living in New York City, this is the harsh reality they have to face on the daily. Affordable housing is a concern that has recently been brought to light by many social media platforms comparing prices of rents throughout the country. According to the Study in US Organization, New York is on the more expensive side; where $1,500 rent equates to a tiny one bedroom apartment in New York, one can afford a 4 bedroom house in Tennessee. Moreover, prices are continually on the rise in New York City. The extreme pricing for shelter is a heavy load for the less fortunate, whose paycheck may not even suffice, which is quite absurd as shelter is a basic human need.The average one bedroom apartment is more than $2,200, and in Manhattan, more than $3,200. The federal government states that if housing costs, including utilities are at or less than 30% of a family’s gross income, then it is affordable. This means that if one makes $50,000 dollars a year, that is a maximum of $1,250 a month for rent and utilities, which is not enough for an average one bedroom apartment in New York. To afford one, one would have to make more than $88,000 and based on a Pew Research Center survey, a $70,000 annual income is middle class for a family of four. On top of $70,000 already being below the threshold for being able to afford an average New York City apartment, this statistic should only be taken with a grain of salt since it includes those making less than $30,000 and more than $100,000 a year as well. Personally, my family never owned a house. We always rented out an apartment because we couldn’t afford one. As part of a lower to marginal middle class family, my mother always told me and my brother that living in New York City does not do us many favors as houses can only be afforded by middle to upper class folks and the lower class is assisted by the government, for example, food stamps and free health care. The lower to middle class however isn’t fortunate due to the wage growth in the middle class and the disparity between that growth and the increased earnings of the wealthier families. My father has been working as a machine operator in Grand Central Terminal for over 25 years. Not only does he work 9 hours a day, but he works overtime every saturday and most sundays, so I barely ever get to see him because of it. Whenever my mom asks him to stay home, he says, “who will pay our rent?” He is passionate and with the amount of time he has dedicated his life to this job, in addition of myself growing up here in Brooklyn and being educated at one of the best institutions here in New York City, it is quite mindless to say “just move to Tennessee”. He says we cannot sacrifice the love we have for where we are, and that is why he has been here for so long; but what concerns me is that he has to sacrifice so much money and time due to work just to afford a place. My father hopes to retire in seven years and move to somewhere more affordable and hopefully with a house, not an apartment.With the cost of housing continually on the rise in New York City, this issue has gotten worse than it has ever been and hits the lower income families especially hard. Becky Koepnick, the Director of the Moelis Institute for Affordable Housing Policy at New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy states, “What we’re seeing now is that almost three-fourths of low income New Yorkers are paying more than half of their monthly income towards rent.” With this, I can’t imagine what it is like for those in the homeless system, with over 50,000 people sleeping in the shelters every night. This problem isn’t unique to New York City as well. It also includes residents of and Philadelphia, Los Angeles. That includes more than 14 million people’s lives. It is a shame that over 14 million people in the United States have to pay the extreme pricing for shelter, a basic human need and a “luxury”.
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