History of Housing in Tompkins County

Housing in Ithaca has been increasingly scarce and unaffordable:

  • Ithacans spend 38.6 percent of income on rent (national average around 30%)

  • The median household income in the City of Ithaca is $29,230 and two-­thirds of the city’s households earn less than $50,000 a year.

  • According to Bohn of IURA, the current rental market in Ithaca has a vacancy rate of less than 1 percent.

While the median costs of housing have increased over the past ten years, median wages have not. Pressure has been put on the City of Ithaca to execute civic policy to balance the numbers out: however, it seems that private non-for-profit institutions are doing most of the work.

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Current Status

Ithaca is in need of smaller houses. This seemingly simple concept has been recently utilized by Second Wind Cottages and Habitat for Humanity in an effort to both dismantle traditional housing costs (heat, gas, etc.) as well as offering housing to underprivileged families and some of Ithaca’s homeless in a safe but small environment. All future architecture, construction, and zoning plans/policies should model after this smaller housing structure.

Aside from volunteer groups, there is extensive research in the affordable housing area. There needs to be more service learning courses and internship opportunities, such as an integration with any volunteer/service-based courses at IC or Cornell with Second Wind Cottages, which seems to be a model example of good housing dignity efforts in Ithaca College.

Housing Volunteer Opportunities

Community Organizations