The cost of rising rent

Published: Mar. 26, 2019 at 6:34 PM CDT
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Patrick Hargrove is looking for an apartment. He said, "About at the two-month window before when my lease was going to expire I got this letter. It's not an eviction notice, it's a vacate notice."

Now he's facing an all too common problem. "Rent is super high," said Hargrove.

His predicament is an issue many in the area are facing.

Local realtor Nathan Lawrence says he's seen rents go up as much 100 percent and sometimes even higher. "So I suspect it's simply supply and demand, the economics of that. You know, one of two things has to happen--supply has to go up or demand has to go down so until one or the other happens I don't think you're gonna see any change in pricing," said Lawrence.

But as Sir Isaac Newton said, for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction.

"Seven people on this street have left because of the increase of their rent," said Jim Clark whose lease expires in July.

His fixed income makes it difficult to find an affordable rental. "I've already told people and I've already contacted the place that I was living back in Tennessee and if I have to go I'll go," said Clark.

"I don't know of anything we can legislate that would change that. It's definitely against the law to take advantage of people in times of hurricanes and tragedies like this but, you know, it's supply and demand," said Senator George Gainer.

Now for many people who are being forced out of their rentals, they're wondering when the line is crossed between supply and demand and price gouging.

"It's hard to say. Is it happening? I mean when you see prices increase 100 percent in a matter of a couple weeks... I guess you be the judge," said Lawrence.

According to a study conducted after Hurricane Katrina, social and economic pressures on the rental market translated into large increases in rents, which were accompanied by the loss of low-income housing.

"And all of a sudden here came the hurricane and I'm trying to lessen the impact all I can but when you're impacted to the degree that we were, there's just so many ways that we're getting taken advantage of," said Gainer.

Some say that in time the market will return to pre-hurricane prices, but for others, time is running out.