Baltimore’s Rental Housing Market Is in Crisis

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People living in certain Baltimore neighborhoods–say, Canton, Locust Point, or Woodberry–might have noticed their rents going up a lot. A whole lot. Like a more than 100 percent increase since 2000.

A recent Abell Foundation report puts a spotlight on what it calls the city’s rent crisis, in which the price of rental housing has been skyrocketing, even as the city’s persistent poverty problem shows no sign of abating. The report tackles the issue on two fronts–first, by examining how families living in poverty in Baltimore have a hard time finding (and affording) adequate housing; second, how middle market families (earning $20-75,000 per year) are now struggling in the same way, as rising rental prices are putting a serious strain on their budgets. Economists recommend that people spend no more than 30 percent of their income on housing; in contrast, Baltimore has one of the highest proportions of residents who pay more than that. A third of the city’s residents spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing.

The study’s author, Johns Hopkins doctoral student Philip M.E. Garboden, notes that a family with one working adult employed full time and earning $15.50 an hour — well above minimum wage — would basically be unable to find a two-bedroom rental in their price range. In other words, as Garboden writes, “There is no area in Baltimore in which two full-time minimum-wage earners could afford the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment.” Yikes.



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4 COMMENTS

  1. The house I bought in the city in 1999 has had a 4 fold increase in taxes. That is ridiculous. As are the rents

    • I’ve experienced the same. On top of that there are new fees for landlords; annual property registration, annual lead paint registration, no stepped property tax increases, additional taxes added to the water bills such as the bay restoration/rain tax. Property owners often hold their property in an LLC. There are usually no assets to report, but an annual return is still required. This filing use to be $0 and now has a cost of $300 to file. And a good landlord has the cost of maintaining their property. This adds up.

      Unfortunately these costs have to be passed on as with any product in today’s society. Housing is a necessity and is not something people can choose to do without. But unless a property owner can afford the lost there is no alternative but to raise rents.

      It is a trickle down effect. States and municipalities trying to raise revenue. The real estate boom pushing up assessments, government unwilling or unable to give up the added revenue during the downturn, and once again the little guy is caught in the middle.

      I believe this study has pretty much confirmed what we already know. Are there any studies that show how this problem has been successfully resolved or the impact reduced? Are there any communities or cities where they have been able to turn this around?

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