Spokane is growing and rentals can’t keep up

Spokane is growing and rentals can’t keep up

It’s happening all over the country, from New York to Los Angeles and right here in Spokane; cities are growing and the rental market can’t keep up.

“Vacancy rates are historically low, there’s no doubt about that,” said Patrick Jones, the Executive Director of Eastern Washington University’s Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis.

How bad is it? Almost 99 percent of one bedroom apartments in Spokane are rented and two bedroom apartments are 97 percent full, according to Eastern Washington University’s Spokane Community Indicators initiative.

Just try and search for a decent apartment in Spokane. If you can find anything, it usually comes at the cost of what you bring home in your paychecks each month, or at the sacrifice of your health, your pets or safety.

“I think the real concern for our population are those people who have to spend 50 percent or more of their income on rent,” said Jones.

According to Quicken, an online budgeting tool, 30 percent of your income should go to your housing. In Spokane, nearly half the population pays that or more.

For 24-year old Anna Fowler, she and her husband were paying well over 50 percent.

“We lived in an apartment in North Spokane and our rent was going to go up to where we couldn’t afford it any more,” said Fowler.

She recently made a call that no twenty-something wants to make.

“I basically had to call my parents and say ‘hey we need a place to live, can we move back home?’ ” explained Fowler.

After trying to make it work in a roommate situation, Anna, her husband, and two-year-old daughter moved in to her parents basement.

“As much as I love my parents, there are some difficulties living as an adult with your parents and my daughter doesn’t fully understand that we live here,” said Fowler. “She keeps saying, ‘lets go home!’ This is home right now.”

Anna says they are saving to put a down payment on a two bedroom home

“We can’t afford to rent. It’s too expensive. It’s crazy that it’s cheaper to buy a house and to sign on for that as well, than to rent,” added Fowler.

Patrick Jones says there are solutions to this rental crisis. They include more rental units at better prices, more low income housing and higher wages in our community.