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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

Breaking News! The Rent is Too High!

The Washington Post has this story today about the crunch in the rental housing market, which apparently is migrating up from lower income families to pinch the middle class even more.

Here in Seattle, where foreclosed houses are saturating the market and former homeowners are looking for rentals, rent prices are worse than they were when I first moved out here 16 years ago. We just renewed our lease, and had to negotiate like hell to keep the rent increase down to JUST $110 a month.

One of the things the Post piece addresses is the lack of new low-income housing. What it doesn’t get into, so much, is the problem addressed by the doc The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: that because there are incentives to build low-income housing, but not so much to maintain them, part of what happens is that even when lower-income housing is built, it quickly deteriorates once they build it and fill it.

We’ve seen that first-hand over the past two years at the apartment complex my oldest daughter lives in in Seattle. She moved in (with my mom) when the place was so brand-new, they were the first tenants in there besides the maintenance guy. She stayed another year, with her fiance, after my mom moved out. And when I say “lower income,” btw, what that means is that they are “just” paying $1100 a month for a very tiny two-bedroom (technically, it’s a 1 1/2 BR, but we’ll be generous).

In just 24 months, this complex has gone from being a nice place for lower-income families to a crime-ridden ghetto. The police are out there several times a night. Little kids are running wild around the grounds at 2AM. It’s Lord of the Flies over there. They are moving out this weekend, into a bigger, cheaper apartment in a small quad in Shoreline.

It’s certainly not news to any of my friends in NY and LA that the cost of rent is ridiculous. But as my friend Hank Stuever (who also writes for the post) pointed out: Since when is the “norm” for rent and utilities 30 percent of pre-tax income?

One Response to “Breaking News! The Rent is Too High!”

  1. With this economy getting a loan to get a house could be a scary purchase. Rent to buy homes is a safer solution.


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