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Comptroller's report highlights state's affordable housing shortage

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Albany/HV: Comptroller's report highlights state's affordable housing shortage
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ALBANY, N.Y. -– Sarah Kelly lives in a senior housing complex in Long Island. Over the past decade, she say she's spent more and more on rent.

"Your income stays the same but your rental goes up each and every year," said Kelly, who lives in Amityville.

Kelly's rent eats up more than half of her yearly income. She was one of more than 200 people at a rally at the State Capitol Monday calling on lawmakers to address the shortage of affordable housing.

"New York state is one of the least affordable states to live in, that's our reality," said Jessica Vasquez, executive director of the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition of New York State.

"It's a major issue,” said Maria Markovics, the co-director of United Tenants of Albany. “There's a serious lack of affordable housing throughout the state."

Prior to the rally, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a report highlighting the startling trend. Since 2000, the percentage of New Yorkers spending more than the federal government's advised affordability threshold of 30 percent of household income has jumped from 40 to 50 percent.

"That then squeezes out the opportunity for money to be spent on other important needs and that has a negative impact on our economy as well," DiNapoli said Monday.

According to the comptroller's report, 1.5 million New Yorkers spend at least half of their income on housing costs. Long perceived as just an urban or downstate issue, strains are being felt in almost every region or the state.

"It's a combination of a tough economy and real household incomes going down," DiNapoli said.

Ideas for possible solutions vary, but most advocates believe more public funding is needed and that a recent emphasis on luxury rentals and condos has created a lack of affordable options.

"That forces people into situations where they're paying way more than they can afford," Markovics said.

For millions of New Yorkers like Kelly, it's a problem that's already put a strain on their household finances.

"If they could really, really see how we're struggling, they would really do something about the issue of housing," Kelly said.

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