Watch CBS News

Thousands in Philly spending half or more of their paychecks on rent

Philadelphians priced out on rent
Philadelphians priced out on rent 02:27

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It's the first of the month, and for many, rent is due.

Housing is the biggest expense for those living paycheck to paycheck.

Many people in the City of Brotherly Love are being priced out on rent.

Financial experts say, generally,  people should spend about 30% of their income on rent.

That's ideal so people have money left over for other essentials.

But CBS News Philadelphia found tens of thousands of people living in the city spend half or more of their paychecks on rent alone.

"It's very difficult," Cynthia Blocker said.

Blocker remembers her biggest monthly bill was a $950 rent check for her one-bedroom apartment in Philly, eating up more than half of her income."It was basically living like paycheck to paycheck," Blocker said.

She didn't have enough to cover other basic expenses like food and utilities.

"It was either between paying rent or buying groceries or what bill am I going to go over balance this month?" Blocker said.

She's not alone.

CBS Philadelphia obtained new data from the U.S. census showing 88,228 renters in Philly spend at least half their income to have a roof over their heads. 

Put another way, 88,000 is over the seating capacity at Lincoln Financial Field and the Wells Fargo Center combined.

"It speaks a lot to poverty," Blocker said. "It speaks a lot to the recession that's going on."

Blocker turned to Project HOME for help. The Philadelphia-based nonprofit that provides affordable housing in the city and says there's a huge need for it.

"Paying 50% is becoming the norm, unfortunately," Cheryl Hill, of Project HOME, said.

Hill gives the example of Project HOME's newest community with 50 units as an example.

"It only had 50 units but in the weeks we had our applications opened we accepted 500 applications," Hill said. "So there's just not enough housing for the need that's out there right now.

She adds people should be spending about 30% of their gross income on rent to have money left over for other essentials. Something Blocker is now able to do.

"And I'm so happy and grateful for the community and family that I have here," Blocker said.

Philadelphia already has an eviction diversion program to help people whose rent suddenly jumps. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.