Rent increases reduce affordable housing options

Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 6:37 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Increasing operating costs, expensive updated appliances, and the booming real estate market are what property managers are citing for increasing rent costs across the commonwealth.

Roanoke saw a 15% increase in rents year-over-year, outpacing the national rates and the rent growth in the rest of Virginia.

In the long term, tenants looking for affordable housing may be on the hunt for a while.

The Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley has received more than $1 million from the government’s rent relief program to help residents in danger of eviction. The money is estimated to run out this summer.

“There are over 100 evictions pending just in Roanoke City General District Court next week,” says general counsel David Beidler. “Through the last seven or eight months, our eviction numbers have increased 70 or 80 percent, so we see a lot of tenants.”

60-year-old Natalie Jones contacted her local Legal Aid office after her calls and emails to the new management for her Lynchburg apartment complex went unanswered.

The market rate for her dwelling this past September was $550. Jones resigned, saving all her letters from management, and receipts of full on-time payments.

According to her rental documents, Greenbrier Management took over the complex in December.

Last month, Jones was sent a notice of non-renewal for her current lease, telling her she’d need to apply for a new one or vacate within 60 days after her term.

Then, Jones received another letter. The new market rate for a two-bedroom apartment at the complex? Listed at $950 month-to-month. A $400 increase. Jones began looking for apartments across the country that she could afford on a fixed income, but was having no luck.

We called and emailed the company, and got a response from Vice President Eddie Duke, who tells us Jones’s rent and others renewing their lease under new management for their current units will only go up about $50 dollars in September.

“We don’t want to make it difficult for someone to continue living there, especially if it’s a resident who’s been there for a little while, that’s their home,” says Duke. “For new people coming in, so after somebody moves out, we’ll go in we’ll do the full renovation and those rents are going to be higher, and they should be, because those apartments on the interior will be essentially brand new.”

As they renovate, Jones feels she’s gradually being priced out of the place she calls home.

“They get to that apartment and they gut it, and you have to get out of there, when they get that apartment like they want it, that rent is going to go up,” says Jones. “What that letter says is exactly what they intend to do and that is to force all of us out.”

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