MICHIGAN, USA — The cost of rent continues to increase across the country. Reports say rent is up more than 10 percent from last year, and community leaders say more and more West Michigan families are being priced out of homes.
"Housing is difficult right now," Dwelling Place CEO Jeremy DeRoo.
According to Rent.com, the cost of a two-bedroom in Grand Rapids is up 17 percent, and a one-bedroom is up about eight percent.
Community leaders say middle-income families who wouldn't normally need to consider applying affordable housing now need to.
Since 2019, the cost of rent rose locally 16 percent in Kent County, 19 percent in Muskegon County and 12 percent in Ottawa County.
"Grand Rapids has historically been a place where people of relatively modest means can afford to rent, and over the last few years that's really changed," DeRoo says. "The income needed to rent a house has gone from $30,000 a year to $45,000 and $50,000 a year, from $600 and $700 a month to under $1500 right now, especially when looking for a three-bedroom."
Dwelling Place helps people find affordable housing and connects people to home ownership opportunities. DeRoo says at the rate rent is rising, people need to make more money to even qualify for a place, but average earnings do not match the cost of living increase.
"If rent goes up $100 a month, you need to make $300 more a month to afford that place so it prices out more and more families," he says.
At Northwest Food Pantry off Leonard Street, Director Waverly Knight says clients are struggling too.
"It's quite the impact," she says. "I've had some clients say, yeah, they jack my rent up $200 a month. They have no clue how they're going to pay that because they barely can pay their other bills as it is."
It's not just the people she works with either.
"I rent myself and my rent just went up again. And I would like to eventually retire. But I will not be able to retire and afford my current apartment," Knight says. "So I am on a waitlist for lower income. But again, it's a waitlist."
She and DeRoo say West Michigan doesn't just need more affordable housing, but more reasonably priced homes as well.
"I don't think anyone should be comfortable with a community moving in a direction where most people cant afford to live in a place for 30 percent of their income," DeRoo says. "It doesn't benefit business, it doesn't benefit people and it hurts everyone to see people being priced out of housing."
On top of starting your rental search as early as possible, calling 211 and networking with friends and family to find a place is also recommended.
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