At this point in the novel coronavirus pandemic, some people (and elected officials) are acting as though the global health crisis is a thing of the past. As states and cities drop mask mandates, for example, as well as masks being optional while flying, many people are finding it all too tempting to fall back into the “old” ways of life, like dining in at restaurants without a mask, attending crowded events, or frequenting spaces with no COVID-19 safety precautions in place.
Something else that feels surreal and dangerous? Housing prices are simply astronomical. In New York City, for example, there is only a small, small number of low-cost housing units left in the city, which is categorized as units under $1,500 per month. According to local outlet NBC 4 New York, the median household income in the city would need to almost double in order to afford the current asking price to rent an available apartment.
“Between 2017 and 2021,” the Department of Housing Preservation and Development initially found, “there was a net loss of about 96,000 units with rents less than $1,500 and a net increase of 107,000 units with rent of $2,300 or more, but this is part of a larger trend over time.” The department went on to note that in 2021, for example, the median rent for an available apartment was $2,750.
Of families who are housed in the last year, by the way, one in every eight was late on at least one rent payment.
Curbed reports that the city now has more Airbnb listings than it does apartments available for rent, adding that there are bidding wars for one in three luxury apartments in the city, and one in five units in the big picture. The outlet also reports that the net-effective median rent for an apartment in Manhattan hit close to $4,000 per month ($3,925) in the last year.
Talking about the cost of vacant (or empty) apartments in the city is also important, as while there may technically be more affordable or rent-stabilized units, those are often not the ones you can find without a personal connection. It’s also reasonable to assume people aren’t eager to move if their rent is remotely reasonable, meaning that if you’ve lucked into a good (or even decent) landlord and cost, you’re probably not going to dip your toes into bidding wars and higher costs, because why would you?
Of course, it’s not only New York. As reported by The Washington Post, for example, rent went up more than 30% in some cities, with locations including Miami, Austin, and (unsurprisingly) New York reaching 40%. In Seattle, rents skyrocketed by more than 18% in a year. According to the Desert Times, in Sacramento rents went up 25%, and Las Vegas and Salt Lake City were close behind, going up by just over 24% each. Rents in Phoenix went up 23%.
On the national scale, rents for a one-bedroom apartment rose about 11% between 2021 and 2022. And there are still Democrats who don’t understand why we need to forgive federal student debt (among other things) before the midterms.