Rental prices continue to rise in Palmetto State as affordable housing options remain stagnant

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Inflation has affected just about everything here in Palmetto State and across the country. But it also affected rental costs. There is an upward trend in rental prices which makes it more difficult to find affordable housing.

In 2020, the costs of renting a one-bedroom apartment had increased by 30% in Colombia, and this trend continues. In January 2022, the rental cost for a one bedroom apartment was 7%. This data comes from a local researcher I spoke with today. He works with United Way told me why were observing this trend and what could be done to stop it.

“It needs to be addressed as soon as possible,” said Andy Pope, senior director of data and research at United Way.

Andy Pope is Senior Director of Data and Research at United Way. He says the increase in rental costs can be attributed to two factors. One is COVID-19 and the other has to do with the lack of state statutes and municipal ordinances.

He says, “So some states have this where the rent can only go up a certain amount. South Carolina does not have a state statue. Thus, housing providers, landlords are able to increase the rent as they wish.

And these housing providers have felt the effects of Covid. Pope tells me that many of them were unable to rent during this period and found themselves without income and in return now having to raise rental prices. An eviction map with its latest figures from 2018 shows that eviction requests at the time were 30%. With a population of over 400,000, that’s 20,000 filings that year. Pope tells me that those numbers have most likely gone up.

“Richland County Council, the City of Columbia is very aware of the need for and growth in affordable housing. I know that United Way of Midlands invests a lot of resources in affordable housing to create these units. So I don’t think this trend is going to last long, but it needs to be addressed as soon as possible,” Pope said.

Pope says there are plenty of property developers moving into the city, but they’re not focusing on low-income housing.

He says: ‘The demand for students looking for homes has increased significantly over the past few years and this has impacted how funding is tied to units being built. There are not many affordable housing units being built in the past two years.”

United Way published a self-sufficiency standard in 2020. He showed what an individual or a family should do to meet basic needs. The online tool shows that a single woman with two children would need to bring in just over $50,000 a year to meet these basic needs.

The City of Columbia offers a rental assistance program, but Pope tells us the waiting list for assistance is in the thousands.

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