Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
    The Challenge of Rising Rents: A Personal Story

    A’ Quinton Ocasio, a hardworking hair stylist from Georgia, recently achieved a significant milestone in his life by renting his own apartment in the Bronx, New York City. However, the journey to this accomplishment was far from easy. Ocasio spent ten years renting rooms with friends and acquaintances, avoiding credit checks and broker fees, in order to save enough money for a down payment on his own place. Despite his perseverance, his new studio apartment comes with a hefty price tag of $2,100 per month, well above the national median rent of $1,978.

    “It’s a small apartment with no laundry facilities in the building, and the surrounding area doesn’t offer much except for the nearby train,” Ocasio shares. “It’s disheartening because there are programs to help people in difficult situations pay their rent, but what about those of us who work hard every day? Where are the programs to assist us?”

    The reality is that shelter costs, particularly rent, have been skyrocketing in recent years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shelter prices have accounted for 70% of the increase in core prices over the past year. While overall inflation has seen a slight decline, shelter prices have continued to rise, with the year-over-year shelter price index in October being twice as high as the overall inflation rate.

    For Ocasio, the financial burden of high rent means making difficult choices, such as deciding which holiday to spend with his mother in Georgia. “I can’t afford to travel for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I have to choose one,” he explains. This year, he chose Thanksgiving because his family is gathering in Virginia. Ocasio acknowledges the sad truth that he simply has to work harder to make ends meet.

    While there are signs that rent prices may be stabilizing, the overall trend is still concerning. Rent prices declined in October for the second consecutive month, and the median rent price dropped below $2,000 for the first time in five months. Factors such as increased inventory and below-normal demand have contributed to this temporary relief, but economists warn that the situation may not last.

    Looking ahead, there are concerns that rent prices could rise again, especially as new residential construction activity slows down. Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist at Bright MLS, explains that if permits for new construction decrease, the supply of available apartments may dwindle, putting upward pressure on rents once more.

    The struggle to afford high rents is not limited to Ocasio but is felt by many individuals and families across the country. As the cost of living continues to rise, it is imperative to find sustainable solutions to ensure affordable housing for all. Only then can hardworking individuals like Ocasio attain the stability and financial freedom they deserve.


    What is the national median rent?

    The national median rent is the midpoint between the highest and lowest rent prices across the entire country. As of now, the national median rent stands at $1,978.

    Why are rent prices rising?

    Rent prices are influenced by various factors, including supply and demand dynamics, construction activity, inflation, and the overall state of the housing market. In recent years, high demand and limited housing supply have contributed to the upward trend in rent prices.

    Are there any programs to assist individuals struggling to pay rent?

    Yes, there are programs in place to help individuals who are facing financial hardships and are struggling to pay rent. These programs include rental assistance, subsidized housing, and government-funded initiatives aimed at providing affordable housing options. However, there is a need for more comprehensive solutions that address the challenges faced by those who work hard every day and still struggle to afford rent.