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Northeast Seattle and Rainier Valley top list of neighborhoods that struggle to pay rent

Neighborhoods farther from the Downtown core have unaffordable rent at a higher rate

An aerial shot of the Rainier Valley in the 1970s.
Seattle Municipal Archives

Despite high rents in the center of the city, people in Northeast Seattle and the Rainier Valley are more cost-burdened by rent than anywhere else in the city, reports the Seattle PI.

The PI, based on a 2016 analysis of a Census Bureau survey conducted from 2010 to 2014, ranked several neighborhoods in and suburbs around Seattle. They found that while things aren’t easy for any neighborhood, in Northeast Seattle, about 60.5 percent of renters spend 30 percent of their income or more on rent—higher than anywhere else in the area.

Rainier Valley, one of the few neighborhoods left in Seattle with a majority-nonwhite population, isn’t far behind, at 60.2.

Citywide, Seattle has a higher population of cost-burdened renters than the county as a whole—citywide, about 47 percent.

Still, many suburbs generally thought of as low-cost alternatives ranked high: SeaTac and Tukwila combined have 58.2 percent of their population spending more than 30 percent on rent.

Capitol Hill and Downtown renters had a lower cost-burdened population than citywide, at 40.6 and 42.4 percent, respectively.

By US Housing and Urban Development standards, rent that costs 30 percent or less of one’s income is considered affordable.

The ranking doesn’t tell us where rent is highest—but it could serve as an analysis of areas where people are most on the verge of getting priced out.

Looking at it that way, this is likely not news to those living on the edge of the city in the Northeast, communities in the Rainier Valley, and people that have already been priced into the suburbs.