Monday, February 16, 2009

Queens Fifth Most Expensive Spot in Nation; Report by Philip Newman -

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The high price of housing in Queens is a major factor in the borough's hefty cost of living.

The cost of living is pushing the middle class out of New York City and Queens is a large part of the problem, according to a new report.

The Center for an Urban Future, a Manhattan think-tank, reported that it requires an annual income of $85,918 to attain middle class status in Queens.

The report said that, in fact, in a survey of 315 urban areas nationwide, only Manhattan, San Francisco, Honolulu and San Jose, Calif., were more expensive places to live than Queens.

Overwhelmingly, it is the stratospheric cost of housing that is sending thousands of middle-class people out of New York City to places like Charlotte, N.C., eastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Florida.

While prices keep rising, pay is stagnant.

A recent survey found 49 percent of Queens residents pay 48 percent or more of their income on housing.

The report said that besides the high cost of housing, New York City is not providing jobs that pay enough for middle-class people to live within their means.

Among the recommendations of the Center for An Urban Future were:

• Develop a strategy to diversify the economy and support growth of the middle class.

• “End neglect” of the city’s community colleges.

• Improve mass transit.

• Vastly increase housing for the middle class.