Packed In: ‘I’m just going to give up’: Seniors can’t keep up with rent increases, find housing

SPOKANE, Wash. — The stories keep coming, many families are facing dramatic rent increases and are struggling to find affordable housing, including Spokane’s seniors.

For seniors living on Social Security, their year-to-year increases aren’t keeping up with rising rent in Spokane. One senior said she knows what it’s like to live on the streets. Now, she’s packing up her things from her apartment, scared that’s where she’s going next.

“I’m just going to give up. I can’t do what I did ten years ago,” said renter Lynn Nelson.

10 years ago, Nelson didn’t have a place to call home; she was living on the streets for years. Now, she knows her time with a roof over her head is limited after receiving notice that her rent was going up $100 in September.

“The first time I looked when I got the notice, I just started crying. I’m going how am I going to do this? How am I going to find a place?” she said.

She only brings in $1,100 a month from Social Security, and the average rent in Spokane is over $1,100. She’s looking everywhere but can’t find something in her budget.

“If I took my whole Social Security check, I could rent an apartment, a lower income apartment, but I would have nothing else,” she said.

Outside the city in Newport, Jacqueline Mishler lives in a mobile home. She’s desperate to move closer to Spokane to be by her family but also hasn’t had any success.

“Rent is just so high, and I live on $800 a month and there’s absolutely nothing I could find,” Mishler said.

She’s also living on Social Security and Disability. Benefits have only gone up 1.3 percent this year for cost of living adjustments, which is about $20 a month for most seniors.

“It’s just very tough for us seniors,” she said.

Rentcafe says 98 percent of all apartments in Spokane are already occupied as the city continues to boom. But for these seniors, they aren’t sure if there will be a place for them to call home as rent rises, and time runs out to figure out their next plans.

“There’s so many of us that are going to end up on the streets, and that’s just very very scary,” Mishler said.

“Will I be the next senior that’s going to be homeless on the street?” Nelson asked.

Lynn sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee voicing her concerns but hasn’t heard back. She’s worried many seniors won’t be able to keep up with what’s on the horizon and hopes something can be done to address the issue sooner rather than later.