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Copyright © 2016, Sun Sentinel
South Florida is the least affordable place in the nation for renters, a situation that a new study calls "troubling."
In 2014, the median gross rent in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties was $1,150, compared with an average of $970 for other metropolitan areas, according to a study by Capital One and the NYU Furman Center.
Meanwhile, the tri-county region's median household income of $34,300 was the lowest of 11 metros studied and $1,500 below the median among metros nationwide.
Metros with higher rents generally had higher incomes, while areas with lower rents had lower incomes. But South Florida "pops out as a troubling exception — a high-cost [area] without high incomes," the study found.
"This study shows that affordable housing is becoming increasingly out of reach for many low- and even moderate-income renters in the nation's largest metro areas — both in the central cities and their surrounding suburbs," Ingrid Gould Ellen, faculty director of the NYU Furman Center, said in a statement.
Renting a home in South Florida beats buying as way to build wealth
The report analyzed rental affordability across the country from 2006 to 2014, focusing on the nation's 11 largest metros.
In South Florida, the typical renter could afford just 15 percent of recently available units in 2014 — the smallest percentage in the study.
What's more, the share of "severely rent burdened" renters in South Florida increased from 32 percent in 2006 to 35 percent in 2014, the report said. In both years, the percentages were the highest of the 11 metro areas.
South Florida was "highly unaffordable in 2006, but it's been even less so since then," said Brian Karfunkel, senior data analyst for the NYU Furman Center, a housing research institute at New York University.
The study, based on census data, also found:
• The number of renters in South Florida grew by more than 450,000 between 2006 and 2014, a 29 percent increase. In Miami itself, 68 percent of residents lived in rental housing, the highest level in the nation.
• The number of rental units in South Florida grew by 27 percent between 2006 and 2014, the second-fastest rate in the country. But the stock of owned homes fell by 10 percent, the largest decline of the areas studied. The foreclosure rate in South Florida was over 18 percent, more than double the second-highest rate.
• The number of rental units couldn't keep up with the rising number of people who wanted to rent them. The renting population in South Florida rose by 29 percent from 2006 to 2014..
• Rents increased more quickly from 2013 to 2014 than they did in the prior years. In every metro area expect Washington, D.C., rents were virtually flat from 2006 to 2013. Then they jumped 1 percent in South Florida. That was less than the rent hikes is most other areas, including 4 percent increases in Dallas, New York and San Francisco.
The NYU/Capital One study mirrored a recent report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, which also determined that South Florida had the heaviest rent burden in the country.
During the housing boom, South Florida lost thousands of apartments when developers converted units into condos. A lack of new construction in the Great Recession and increasing demand since then have put landlords firmly in control of the market.
The market can handle 3 percent annual rent increases, but recent increases in parts of South Florida have hit 8 percent or more, said L. Keith White, president of Reinhold P. Wolff Economic Research in Oakland Park.
"Those kind of increases can't be sustained over a long period of time," White said. "They need to be more reasonable."
Aside from South Florida, the other metros in the study were Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.