Why 2015 Was A Tough Year For Blaine County Renters

Dec 21, 2015

Credit Chris / Flickr Creative Commons

The rising cost of rental housing is a story being played out in cities across the country. In Idaho, the affordable housing crisis in Boise has been well documented. But the rental crunch is not unique to the capital city; Blaine County is another part of the state where people are having a tough time finding a place to live within their budget. 

David Patrie with the Blaine County Housing Authority says 2015 was an especially tough year for low-to-middle income families looking to rent. His office recently published its year-end report, highlighting the challenges facing this demographic group.

"The big story for the year is the increasing prices in the rental market and the increasing tightening in the rental market," Patrie says. "So there’s less availability and increasing prices pretty much across every unit type.”

He says one reason for the rental squeeze is the upswing in the housing market for homeowners. On more than one occasion, his office heard from people looking for a new place to live after their landlord decided to sell the home they were renting.

Another factor noted in the year-end housing report was declining median wages. In Hailey and Bellevue – typically some of the cheapest places to live in the Wood River Valley – the cost of renting a three-bedroom home went up by 8 percent to nearly $1,250. The housing authority estimates a household needs to make almost $60,000 a year to afford that. As an example, Patrie says that’s about $17,000 more than the starting salary for a Blaine County School District teacher.

He thinks those rental hikes could be pushing people to find cheaper housing further away from their jobs in the Sun Valley area.

“It also has economic impacts where people are forced to spend more of their income on rental [costs] which leaves them less money for food, healthcare and other economic spending in the community.”

Read the full housing report here.

Follow reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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