June 19, 2023 8:00am

The myth of affordable housing in Raleigh

Affordable housing in Raleigh as you knew it is an extinct species.

Photo of Leigh Tauss
Research Triangle Correspondent

The definition of ‘affordable’ can vary wildly based on our experiences, but for many of our members, what they once considered affordable housing is now an extinct species in the 2023 Raleigh housing market. I’m not writing this to make you feel bad. Surely, there are policy choices our leaders could lean on to create more housing options in the city. But as we get into the housing market’s prime season, I just want to point out the obvious: the affordable housing many of you used to get a foothold no longer exists in Raleigh.
Look, even the affordable housing I enjoyed when I moved here five years ago is mostly gone.
And while I’m lucky to own a home now, if I were on the market today, I’d be out of luck.
Let’s break it down.

The biggest portion of our members, 44 percent, paid less than $500 for their first apartment alone or with a partner. Just a hair less -- 43 percent -- say they paid between $500 an $1,000 in rent.
Just 12 percent reported paying more than $1,000 a month and only a single member says they paid more than $1,500.

The medium rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Raleigh is $1,612, according to Rent Cafe.
That means every single one of the members that responded to this poll paid under today’s market value for their first apartment.

Currently, most Triangle members pay less than $2,000 in housing costs per month. At most, that’s about four times what they were paying for their first apartment. However, breaking that down, nearly all of that group pay between $1,500 and $2,000. Just 6 percent pay lessfewer than $500 on housing. That means that the cost of housing has increased between 200 and 400 percent for most members.

But for another 26 percent, it’s gone up even more -- They report paying between $2,500 and $4,000 for housing.

The odds be ever in your favor though. Nearly all of our members -- 92 percent -- own their own home compared to the just 7 percent who rent.


Credit where credit is due: Our members were right on the money as to Raleigh’s Median rental price in 2023. It’s just over $1,600, which 58 percent of members guessed correctly. Nearly a third of members estimated rent was more than $2,000 though, and unfortunately, they may be right in a few years unless serious changes are made.

And here’s the kicker:

Given your experience: what would you call affordable for someone making below $20 an hour? For 85 percent of you, that is rent under $1,000 per month. Among that, 17 percent think it should be below $500.

That apartment you could occupy alone or with a partner no longer exists in the Triangle. The medium apartment rate in Raleigh is more than $1,600, and prices even an hour away from downtown epicenters are climbing rapidly, according to a recent report by Axios. More troubling, experts say there is no end in sight and rent is expected to continue to rise in the region.

It’s no wonder why many young folks need to take on side hustles to survive.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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