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00000176-d8fc-dce8-adff-faff71570000The Boise-metro market was hardest hit in Idaho's housing crisis, with foreclosures concentrated in Ada and Canyon Counties.Idaho’s housing boom was centered around its two main metropolitan areas, Boise and Coeur d’Alene.John Starr of the global real estate company Colliers International had a front-row seat as capital poured into the local housing markets in the years preceding the bust.When he thinks of the early 2000s, he remembers watching land prices rise with demand, and house lots shrink. What the area wound up with, he says, were more and more subdivisions, packed tight with houses.Census data show that the state’s population grew by more than 28 percent from 1990 to 2000, and by more than 20 percent from 2000 to 2010. Starr said that's due in large part to growth at Micron Technology. That growth, in turn, fueled Idaho's housing boom.“The reason we were doubling the national average growth rate was we were moving in a whole bunch of people that we couldn’t produce here in Idaho, namely electrical engineers and so forth to work at Micron. The data points that people were looking at that were helping them make decisions about coming to Boise and deploying capital and building and helping us grow – those data points were skewed.” - John Starr, Colliers InternationalAccording to Metrostudy, a housing and data information company, Boise’s housing market began to bottom out in 2009.

Why 2015 Was A Tough Year For Blaine County Renters

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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

Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio