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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