These Small Towns Have a Big City Problem: The Rent Is Way Too High

It had become unbearable for Troy Mongillo and his girlfriend, Amanda Pabon, to spend time at home. The construction noise was constant, utilities were frequently shut off, and the insulation beneath their apartment was removed just before winter as the new owners of their building in Beacon, N.Y., renovated the vacant retail space downstairs into a trendy bar. So they decided to move.

But the couple quickly discovered what has become a reality in Beacon and the rest of the Hudson Valley, directly north of New York City: Affordable rentals were hard to come by. They were shocked by how few apartments fell within their budget and how much landlords were demanding of them just to apply.

“I was starting to feel like there’s just no end in sight,” Mr. Mongillo said of the weeks they spent searching for a new home. “Things felt really bleak.”

An intensifying housing crisis has gripped New York City and urban areas around the country, fueled by the rising costs of homeownership, surging rents and limited housing stock. Now, some places that were long considered more affordable are contending with those same factors, as well as a pandemic-era influx of new residents and a boom in the number of houses being bought as second homes or listed on short-term rental platforms — putting them increasingly out of reach for renters.

The challenges are acute in parts of the Hudson Valley, where fair market rents (a value calculated annually by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to gauge housing markets) have increased by as much as 45 percent in some places since 2019, according to a report published last year by Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, a nonprofit group. Rents have risen much faster than wages for many in the region, where lower-income workers have seen their wages stagnate or even decline, according to the report.

Buying a home has become more difficult, driving more people into the rental market, said Adam Bosch, the group’s president and chief executive. That has pushed rents “up and up and up,” he said.

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