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The impact of rapidly rising rent

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

Tim Wayman, chair of the FamilyForward Board of Directors, examines how inflation-spurred rising rental costs affect both the daily lives of our clients and FamilyForward's rent-support efforts for families in our two-year program.

While the current inflation bubble may most noticeably hit our pocketbooks through increased gasoline and food prices, the rising cost of rental apartments and housing may be the most significant challenge facing low-income families. Many of our client families in the FamilyForward two-year program have been informed that when their leases renew, they should expect rent increases of $100-$200 per month. We recently spoke to a single mother whose apartment lease in Prospect Heights will increase by a whopping $230 per month.

A recent report from pegged year-over-year rent growth in March at 17%, representing the eighth consecutive month of double-digit price hikes. While lack of supply is one factor driving up rental cost, landlords may also pass along the inflationary cost of utilities, repairs and maintenance to tenants. Rent-relief programs through the State of Illinois are closed. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for families to fall months behind on their rent, especially when there is only a single adult wage earner.

How do these increasing rental costs affect FamilyForward? Since a family beginning our program is responsible for paying just 30% of its income on housing, FamilyForward’s portion of rental payments increases as rent rises unless the family wage earner(s) receive a significant increase in pay. While increased earnings remain a goal for client families, it is generally unrealistic for wages to increase at a rate close to current rental housing pricing trends.

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