Study: The rent is too darn high

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A new study of housing in the United States says renters are feeling an unprecedented burden.

"We have just had an astounding growth in renter households," said Chris Herbert of Harvard's Center for Housing Studies.

Forty-nine percent of Americans are paying more than 30 percent of their income towards rent; 26 percent are paying 50 percent.

"I was working two jobs, day and night, to pay bills," said Lyssa Beltran of Tampa.

So she made a move.  This year, she downgraded from a townhouse to an efficiency to save $700 a month.

"That is like more than my car payment and everything put together," she said.

Thirty-four million rented in 2005, compared to 43 million today, which is why these two figures are so alarming.

Harvard says rents have gone up 3.5 percent every year while renters' incomes are down 9 percent.

"Renting has a lot of benefits in avoiding financial risk, and shifting that responsibility for maintenance and the like onto property owners," said Herbert.

The biggest concern is for families making less than $50,000 a year.

Chib Anderson is with Tampa's Coldwell Banker and says she's been renting places for more then $2,000 in Channelside and South Tampa.

"The middle and lower middle class are being squeezed out of the market," she said.

After Beltran got tired of being stretched, she downgraded housing, quit one of her two jobs and upgraded her quality of life.

She just got back from her first vacation in two years.

"That literally changed a lot," she said. "I can relax."

Harvard says the median rent in a new building is $1,375 a month, which is up from just $1,100 in 2012.