“If I have to spend 40 or even 50 percent of my household income on rent, that means I’m going to spend less on restaurants, less on clothing, less at malls, less on everything else,” said Barry Bluestone, director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University.
Bluestone said cities and towns need to aggressively encourage the construction of affordable housing by, for example, eliminating minimum lot sizes and easing restrictions on multi-unit buildings.
For some renters, Boston has gotten to be too much.
David Mailloux, 37, until recently a patient advocate at a health clinic, had been renting in Boston for most of his adult life. But a vacation earlier this year in Madison, Wis., turned into a relocation, once he saw what $800 a month got him: a two-bedroom 15 minutes from downtown.
“I grew up here, but you have to move on,” he said. “No one in their 30s wants to move home because they can’t afford to rent.” He was unable to find a one-bedroom or studio apartment for under $1,000 near Boston. “If rents keep going up, you’re going to have to be some superstar lawyer or businessman to afford a decent place in Boston.”