PHOENIX — When you think about the booming real estate market in the Phoenix area, you think of a bustling market of happy sellers and a flood of nervous buyers. But what about those who aren't looking to buy or sell a new home? The current market has a consequence many aren't thinking of.
A consequence felt by Valley resident Kimberly Lyman. She is one of those people being priced out of buying and renting homes due to the current housing market.
“I had a great two bedroom apartment here locally, paying my rent, living life,” she said.
Then her rent went up by $100. And then last June, she said it went up another $175.
“I'm a single mom, you know, working trying to work. And so couldn't pay the rent, got evicted,” said Lyman.
The average price for a 2-bedroom apartment in Maricopa County has gone from $908 a month in 2015 to $1,281 a month in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The rising rent and people being priced out is cause for concern.
“We’ve got a lot of people who are falling further and further behind,” said Mark Stapp, director of the real estate program at ASU’s WP Carey School of Business.
He says demand is outpacing supply and regular workers can’t keep up.
In order to stop this growing divide, Stapp suggests:
- Builders need to build more affordable housing not to make a profit, but to be part of the solution.
- The state needs to pass legislation for low income housing tax credits to supplement federal credits.
- Cities need to use vacant land to build homes and apartments specifically for workforce housing.
“Since 2015 median household income went up about 13 percent, rents went up 40 percent and homes went up 65. Those statistics tell you not only the problem, but the nature of the problem,” said Stapp. “We need a comprehensive strategy that’s not fully in place yet.”
Lyman said it seemed impossible for her and her 14-year old son to find a safe place in a decent neighborhood. She said she felt “hopeless, humiliated" that she could no longer take care of her child.
"You know, if it was just me, I could live in my car. But it was my child that, you know, had to suffer the most because of it. I felt helpless.”
Not only did the eviction add to the stress, Lyman was battling cancer and she later contracted COVID-19.
“I just threw up my hands and I just said, okay, God, I can't take it anymore. So whatever you're going to do, let's get it done because there's nothing more for me to do. I could cry. I was crying every day,” she said.
Finally, right before last Christmas, her prayers were answered by the House of Refuge, a non-profit that gives temporary housing and support to homeless families. Kayla Kolar, executive director of the House of Refuge, said the organization is helping more families now during the pandemic than ever before.
“Arizona is in the bottom three in the country for affordable housing, and, unfortunately is based on demand, Arizona is a great place to live. People want to come here we have great weather. And the rental market, the demand is for more rentals,” said Kolar.
In the meantime, organizations like the House of Refuge are the needed lifeline for those like Lyman. She’s able to save money, but also realizes it’s not forever. “I don’t need fancy. I just want to be happy.”