Thursday, April 2, 2015

If your rent wasn't too high before...

The United States has a rental problem and things aren't looking good.

If your rent wasn't too high before...

AP Photo

The United States has a rental problem and things aren't looking good. There aren't enough affordable rental properties as is and—as Millennials move out of their parents' basements—things are going to get worse. Like, much worse.

The Atlantic breaks down the report from the Bipartisan Policy Center, positing that as Millennials grow the hell up, their parents are also going to want to downsize because mowing the lawn is hella annoying.

Many Baby Boomers, meanwhile, are expected to downsize into smaller rentals units where they won’t have to mow their own lawns.

Housing wonks have projected that we may need to build at least 3 million new rental apartment units in the next 10 years to satisfy all these people. And if you’re a renter just about anywhere in the country, you may already be feeling the crunch: As Cities reported last summer, it’s lately become cheaper to buy a home than to rent one in the vast majority of America’s 100 largest metros.

This problem will directly affect twentysomethings trying to live in or close to expensive cities like New York. But, it doesn't stop there. We should expect a trickle down effect that, ultimately, hurts America's low-income households the most.

But we have only 3.7 million rental housing units available in the U.S. to 10.3 million households living in extreme poverty. As the report’s authors add: "This mismatch would likely be even larger if we considered only those homes located in safe, amenity-rich neighborhoods with good-performing schools and access to jobs."

So, as Millennials move out and look for housing, the affordable properties will be harder and harder to find. Then, to meet the increased demand, older units will be upgraded with new appliances and the like, making them even less affordable for low-income families and widening the economic chasm.

Now, as rents continue to rise faster than incomes throughout the economy, it will be as important for cities to focus on housing these residents as those professionals for whom "affordability" means something quite different. In some markets, the report notes, strong competition for older units means that we may also wind up upgrading apartments once accessible to lower-income households with new amenities – expensive kitchen appliances, nicer bathrooms – that will only push those units permanently out of reach.

Jimmy McMillian for President in 2016? [The Atlantic]

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