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‘Anybody that’s middle class and below, we’re screwed’: Housing costs rise


Damon Blanchard, a 46-year-old living in Columbus, Ohio, is unemployed but gets a biweekly workers’ compensation check worth about $686 after getting hurt on the job in a scrapyard three years ago, he said.

Last year, an investment firm purchased the apartment complex Blanchard is living in — which he said is largely home to people of color — and ultimately bumped his rent up from $450 to $970 in January. Because of that, he’s currently spending almost all of his income on rent. 

Like many tenants have done since the start of the pandemic, Blanchard tried to organize with his neighbors and fight back against his landlord’s rent increases, though he said the investment firm that acquired his complex, Vision and Beyond, was unwilling to negotiate with renters as a group. 

‘Things are changing, but they’re getting worse for the citizens of the nation. Anybody that’s middle class and below, we’re screwed.’


— Damon Blanchard, a 46-year-old living in Columbus, Ohio

The company did not immediately respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment, but has previously told local media outlets that it is investing in much-needed safety and building improvements and that any rent increases were in line with comparable rental properties in the area. 

“Things are changing, but they’re getting worse for the citizens of the nation,” Blanchard said. “Anybody that’s middle class and below, we’re screwed.”

Blanchard may be more vulnerable than households with one or two incomes, but he is not alone. If you’re renting your home, chances are you’re paying more than you’re used to.

Higher cost of living

The Labor Department said Wednesday that its consumer price index, which measures the price of goods and services, had increased 8.3% in the 12 months ending in April, with the index rising 0.3% last month alone. While inflation has actually slowed down a bit, Americans are still bearing the burden of a higher cost of living, particularly when paying for shelter, food, airline fares, and cars. 

Housing costs — which, for a middle-income household, might take up a third of a family’s take-home pay — have jumped by 5.1% in the past year, the fastest annual pace since 1991, while rents are up 4.8% from a year ago, according to the Labor Department.

While it’s not too surprising that shelter costs are rising, “it is concerning,” said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin. There’s not much that can be done short-term to curb rent inflation outside of raising interest rates, which the Fed is already doing, she added.



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