It's not news that your average worker—let alone one making the current minimum wage of $8.75/hour—can't afford the sky-high rents that have become typical in New York (not to mention most other big cities). But just looking at the median rent you see in market reports doesn't tell the whole story. As we've written before, there are still cheap deals to be found if you're persistent and know where to look.
This in mind, StreetEasy crunched the numbers this week to identify neighborhoods in all five boroughs that had the highest number of rentals over the past year that were actually attainable for minimum wage earners. (in other words, "affordable to a person making $8.75 per hour, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year," per StreetEasy's blog post explaining the findings.) And in spite of its rapid-fire gentrification of late, Bed-Stuy actually came out on top. (They also broke down the top neighborhoods per borough, as in the charts below).
All, told, though, the pickings were slim: Per their stats, just 575 listings fit the bill in the entire city last year. "Finding an affordable apartment if you’re a minimum wage earner is a lot like finding a needle in a haystack," StreetEasy data scientist Alan Lightfeldt wrote us via email. Witness: Only 3 of every 1000 listings in New York City qualified as affordable in 2014, and most of them were concentrated in east and south Brooklyn, areas far enough out on transit lines that gentrification (and its attendant price hikes) haven't totally taken over—yet. "Minimum wage earners may have more luck starting their rental search in neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy and East New York, where there are a relatively large amount of rental units that are affordable," he adds.
In Manhattan, Washington Heights came out on top, followed by central Harlem; and in Queens, the Rockaways led the pack with Ridgewood—in spite of its influx of former Bushwick denizens—came in second.
All in all the numbers are pretty stark, though, and as Lightfeldt points out on the blog, point to the crucial role of subsidized housing for low-income renters, who'd have virtually no options if they were forced to go market-rate.
But hey, at least rents are getting cheaper for somebody in this market.