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How Poor Renters Pay for Luxury Apartments

The cheapest rents have surged over time while the priciest are flat, a study shows. Is it all that high-end construction?
Long Island City Record Land Costs Mean Condos Are Coming Soon
Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

In big, expensive cities such as New York and Los Angeles, rising rental costs are straining middle-class budgets. Historically, though, rents have hit low-income tenants the hardest. New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows just how hard.  

From 1993 to 2013, the cost of the cheapest 20 percent of U.S. rental units has increased more than 10 percent a year, according to the New York Fed analysis of data from the Census Bureau's American Housing Survey. Meanwhile, the rents of apartments and houses in the priciest 20 percent were flat over time.