consultants are sandburs

Monday, May 04, 2015

Strib carries an AP feed having a sobering headline (and text), "More than 1 in 4 US renters must use at least half their family income to pay housing costs."

Rent's due. You have to pay to stay. Gouging is in the eye of the beholder ...

Whatever "market rate" means, and it is an awful term for its ambiguity with a suggestion of gouging for what the market will bear, the term nonetheless seems in conflict with "affordable" or "bargain," from a renter's standpoint.

From a landlord's perspective, "market rate" = fat city

I think that explores the several meanings we can give the term, "market rate" rental housing.

An excerpt from Strib's item:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has estimated that 12 million renters and homeowners spend at least 50 percent of their income on housing.

And Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies found in a 2013 report that roughly 27 percent of renters were devoting half their incomes to rent. Those levels were "unimaginable just a decade ago," the report said.

Average hourly wages have risen just 2.1 percent in the past 12 months, according to the Labor Department, while rental prices have climbed 3.7 percent, Zillow said last week.

Many renters lack the income to pay the cost of maintaining and operating these buildings, said Barry Zigas, director of housing policy at the Consumer Federation of America and a trustee at the nonprofit Mercy Housing.

Mercy Housing has a portfolio of 12,000 units for low-income people and senior citizens. It costs an average of roughly $500 a month to manage each unit, Zigas said. A monthly rent of $500 would mean that anyone working full time for a minimum wage would devote more than a third of his or her income to housing.

Either the tenants must fork over a greater share of their pay each year or landlords may let buildings fall into disrepair.

[italics added] That "disrepair" threat is what must be watched for, at Town Center. As long as housing rental is a sellers market, Flaherty and others have a disincentive toward disrepair. When seeking top market rents, keeping up the amenities; the pool, the exercise room, the common areas, all the glitz; matters in what the market will bear.

If it becomes a buyers market, with haunting vacancies, cost shaving via repair postponement becomes attractive.

(Some may like landlords -- I do not, and it shows.)

There is little room to deny that today's housing market is predominated by demand outstripping supply, to the benefit of landlords and at the expense of renters. E.g., the Strib-AP item concludes:

The Great Recession caused waves of foreclosures and layoffs that pushed more Americans into renting. More than 36 percent of people now rent, compared with 31 percent before the recession began in late 2007. The increased demand has yet to be matched by construction and renovations.

In March, the National Low Income Housing Coalition reported a shortage of 7.1 million apartments for low-income renters. The shortages are most pronounced in Nevada, California, Arizona, Oregon, Florida, Colorado and Utah.

Construction firms are building apartment complexes at an annual pace of roughly 321,333 this year, according to the Commerce Department. The rising rental prices suggest that construction hasn't kept pace with demand, according to economists.

So, again tell me, why did Flaherty need all that public money subsidy? One theory, need vs want, he wanted it, and due to personalities and decisions in our town, he got it on a 4-3 council vote. Flaherty employed means to persuade, and was subsidy-successful.

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