Rent exceeds 30% of income in at least 21 Treasure Valley neighborhoods. Is yours one?

If you thought rent in the Boise area was eating up more of your paycheck than it used to, it’s not your imagination.

As the Treasure Valley has grown and home prices have skyrocketed, more and more neighborhoods are pricing out renters.

Rent in at least 21 neighborhoods takes up more than 30 percent of a typical renter’s income, according to a Statesman analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data for 2017. That’s the maximum that experts recommend people spend on housing — and for renters, it should include not just rent but utilities, too.

These neighborhoods aren’t always the most expensive — the North End and Downtown Boise would probably take the cake there. Instead, these are places where apartments and rental homes are gobbling up too much of their residents’ income.

The valley’s least affordable areas

The neighborhoods where people are paying too much? In these locations, the median rents are more than 43 percent of income for the people who live there:

And in these neighborhoods, the median rent is more than 37 percent of income:

  • A chunk of Southeast Boise around the South Boise Village neighborhood — the area bound by the Boise River on the north, Broadway Avenue on the east; and South Capitol Boulevard, Boise Avenue and Federal Way along the south and west.
  • The Central Bench neighborhood — a square, smack in the middle of the Bench, bound by Alpine Street on the north, Roosevelt Street on the east, Overland Road on the south and Curtis Road on the west.

Canyon County renters are squeezed hardest in the Caldwell neighborhood around West Valley Medical Center, west of the College of Idaho. The median rent in that area — bound by Simplot Boulevard on the north, Paynter and Montana avenues on the east, Linden Street on the south and Farmway Road on the west — is 37 percent of income.

Where are renters most comfortable? Kuna. (Technically, a couple giant chunks of remote Ada County take the lead.) The median rent for Kuna, one of the fastest growing parts of the valley, is about 20 percent of a person’s income.

The housing crunch is spreading

The valley has seen a double-digit increase in the share of neighborhoods where at least half of renters pay their landlords a higher-than-affordable rent, the Census data show.

About 16 percent more Treasure Valley neighborhoods are unaffordable now than during the Great Recession.

And in some neighborhoods, the difference is extreme — with rent-to-income ratios spiking as much as 40 percent since 2009.

It’s not just a phenomenon in the Boise area. Rents in other Western cities are becoming untenable for the average person.

Salem Reporter journalist Rachel Alexander found that rent is unaffordable in half of the neighborhoods in Salem, Oregon.

“The data gives insights into housing costs at a time when homelessness and affordable housing are growing concerns for Salem residents,” Alexander reported this month.

The good-ish news: It doesn’t look like any Treasure Valley neighborhoods have yet surpassed the 50 percent mark for unaffordability. That’s where people become “severely housing-cost burdened,” according to the Census Bureau.

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Watchdog reporter Audrey Dutton joined the Statesman in 2011. Before that, she covered finance policy in Washington, D.C., during the financial crisis. She also worked as a reporter in Maryland, Minneapolis and New York. Audrey hails from Twin Falls.