7 Actions Black People Can Take To Help Cut Rent Costs As Rates Increase


When it comes to housing, Providence, RI, offers the lowest-cost rent for Black Americans.

The finding is tied to this new report by Real Estate Witch. It is based on rent-to-income (RTI) ratios in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas as of 2021. The ratio is the percentage of gross monthly income a tenant needs to pay rent. It is recommended that the RTI does not exceed 30% or less of gross monthly income.

The average Providence resident spends $1,066 a month on rent, which is 20.5% of their gross monthly income. Providence is followed, respectively, by San Antonio, Texas; Hartford, Connecticut; Indianapolis; and Atlanta as the five most affordable rent cities for Blacks (see chart below).

Jaime Seale, the report’s writer, shared Black Americans are spending more of their monthly income on rent primarily because they tend to earn lower annual salaries than the overall population  In Miami, for example, she says the median annual income for all Americans is $62,870 versus $50,897 for Blacks.

She explained the housing shortage over the past decade has caused demand for homes to exceed supply, boosting home prices rapidly.

“High prices combined with rising mortgage rates have priced many would-be buyers out of the market. That means many more Americans are renting and renting for longer periods of time. That increases demand for rental units and causes those prices to rise as well.”

For U.S renters all told, Cincinnati is the most affordable city, with a rent-to-income ratio of 15.5%. In contrast, Miami has the highest RTI at 28.5%.

Overall, the report shows the median U.S. rent price has risen from $378 to $1,163 a month since 1985. It surmised if rent grew at the same rate as inflation during this time frame, the median U.S. rent would cost just $939 a month instead of $1,163—about 19% less, as of 2021.

Here are some tips Seale offered to help make rent more affordable:

  • Negotiate with the landlord when it’s time to renew the lease as the landlord wants to keep good renters, giving tenants possible leverage. Research similar properties and offer a fair price.
  • Sign a longer lease. Landlords don’t want frequent vacancies, possibly making them more likely to lower the price if renters sign for 1.5 years or 2 years.
  • If you decide to move, wait until the fall or winter when demand is lower than summer. Landlords might be more willing to bargain during the fall and winter when vacancies are higher.
  • Refer friends. Some apartment complexes will offer a cash bonus or a rent discount for current renters who bring in new tenants.
  • Relocate. Living downtown or in a highly desirable area will likely be more expensive. Renters can still find nice apartments in safe neighborhoods that are a little farther away.
  • Downgrade to a smaller unit, which is generally cheaper due to less square footage.
  • Find a roommate to split the rent and utility costs.

The cities that are most affordable for Blacks is where income is high and rent is low, meaning those individuals spend a smaller portion of their monthly income on rent.  Those cities are


                                                           Median Income                 Median Rent Cost             2021 RTI

Providence, RI                               $62,457                                  $1,066                            20.5%

San Antonio, TX                            $55,445                                  $1,122                            24.3%

Hartford, CT                                   $58,202                                  $1,199                            24.7%

Indianapolis, IN                              $47,358                                  $987                              25.0%

Atlanta, GA                                      $60,966                                 $1,294                            25.5%

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