In upstate New York, restaurant workers can’t afford to live in the communities they serve

It’s well-established that the nation has been facing a labor crisis, with blame being assigned to everything from fortified unemployment benefits to low wages. For restaurant owners in New York’s Ulster County, a major driver of the labor shortage is a dearth of affordable housing for their employees, reports The New York Times. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many city residents have packed up and relocated full-time to rural homes upstate, snapping up inventory. More recently, the market for short-rental homes on sites like Airbnb has been booming, and high building and labor costs have dissuaded builders from constructing affordable housing, which is much less profitable than building high-end homes. The result? A housing market where a two-bedroom rental averages $1,439 per month—up 11 percent from the previous year, and out of reach for many service workers being paid the minimum wage.

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