Verity Property Management Boise
Verity Property Management Boise – Nesha Jennings said her problem wasn’t that she couldn’t afford to pay $900 a month in Boise rent for herself, her husband and their teenage daughter. He could.
But when she looked for an apartment in May, she didn’t have the $3,000 she needed to cover the last month’s rent, deposit and pet fees to sign a lease at that price.
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And many property managers charged application fees. Combined with the rent, they were more than Jennings could afford.
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He first looked in Southwest Boise, where the family previously rented before the landlord decided to move there himself.
“There was almost nothing in the same area, so I had to look farther and farther into Boise,” Jennings said. “A lot of the places I came across were already rented, or I couldn’t afford to take the $100 application fee from my other moving expenses.”
Jennings, 39, said she got a break when the landlord of a rental near the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Allumbaugh Street let her spread the cost of moving over three months. He signed a $900-a-month lease, and his family moved in.
Jennings said she supports the family on a $30,000-a-year salary as a psychiatric technician at Allumbaugh House, which provides rehab and short-term crisis and mental health services. His commute is shorter, and he said he’s starting to catch up financially.
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“Gas to and from work was a stretch,” he said. “My car payments fell behind. Groceries every month was a stretch.”
The Valley has nothing as severe as the affordable housing crisis experienced in places like San Francisco, where the average apartment rented for $3,458 in the first quarter of 2015. But here, rents have outpaced stagnant wage growth.
One-bedroom apartments in Ada County rose an average of 30.6 percent to $606 a month from 2009 to 2015, according to a report from the Southwest Idaho chapter of the National Association of Rental Property Managers. Three-bedroom apartments rose nearly 21 percent to $867.
Since 2012, the first year the association surveyed rental housing in Canyon County, rents rose nearly 20 percent for both one-bedroom units ($500 per month) and three-bedroom units ($750).
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Someone earning Ada County’s median one-person household income of $32,000 a year could afford to pay $800 a month, following the rule of thumb that no more than 30 percent of income can go toward rent. A family earning Ada County’s median household income of $55,000 could pay $1,380.
The share of households renting in the Boise-Nampa area, which includes all of Ada, Canyon, Boise, Gem and Owyhee counties, increased from 28.2 percent in 2000 to 32.3 percent in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Ada County’s vacancy rate falls between 3 and 4.2 percent, depending on the source, from 9 percent in 2009 and below the historical norm of 5 or 6 percent.
Boise City Councilwoman Lauren McLean said the tight market is the result of more residents choosing to rent or lack the credit to buy homes after the Great Recession.
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McLean is also a board member of the city’s urban renewal agency, the Capitol City Development Corp., which also wants to promote downtown housing.
“The rental market is practically saturated,” McLean said. “Vacancies are negligible, and prices are rising because there are more people in the market. This creates downward pressure for all those looking for an apartment. It’s going to be very difficult.”
And some Boise complexes are raising rents drastically. The new owners of Glenbrook Apartments at Cassia and Curtis streets gave tenants 30 days’ notice to renovate most of the 112 units before raising prices. Most of the tenants were refugees. Rents will go from $575 for one-bedrooms and $650 for two-bedrooms to about $900 and $1,000, respectively.
Whitewater Park Apartments near Whittier Elementary School recently told tenants that rates are going up, in some cases by more than 50 percent. A one-bedroom apartment facing Quinn’s Pond will go from $777 to $1,176.
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Ada County has an affordable housing problem, said Deanna Watson, executive director of the Ada County Housing Authority in Boise City. Watson’s office administers programs like Section 8, which provides vouchers to 2,000 households in the county.
In 2012, 76 percent of gift card holders found an apartment within 60 days, he said. Today, only 60 percent do, and some people return unused vouchers when they haven’t found an apartment after 60 days, he said.
Rent competition hurts low-income tenants such as refugees, felons, veterans and disabled renters, said Zoe Ann Olson, executive director of the nonprofit Intermountain Fair Housing Council.
Lower-middle-income renters who earn too much to qualify for housing assistance struggle to find $650 to $750 rentals that her working families can afford.
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“If you don’t make $35,000 a year, it’s hard to find affordable housing in our area,” Olson said. “We’re having a hard time finding housing that the families we work with can afford for less than $900 a month.”
Boise resident Richard Williams is feeling the pinch. Williams, 58, lives alone at the Hillcrest View Apartments at the corner of South Orchard and West Cassia streets. Since a spinal injury in 1989, he has lived on Social Security, which pays about $760 a month. She depends on the federal Section 8 Housing Voucher program to pay most of her $650 rent.
Verity Property Management, which manages Williams’ complex, told her nearly two years ago that it would no longer accept the vouchers and gave her a year to move out. After a year, Verity extended the deadline by another year, but said the new deadline was final.
Williams gets tired after walking a lap around the complex, which he does three times a week in warm weather. She started house hunting last week and said she found only a few rentals in her price range that would accept coupons.
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She said she’s lucky she just got an apartment at Civic Plaza in downtown Boise, which accepts housing vouchers. “It would have been a lot harder to find a place if I had a family,” he said.
In 2011, a group of investors led by David Wali bought the old Macy’s building at the corner of 10th and Main Street for $1 million with plans to convert it into affordable housing. Wali said his group planned for retail space on the ground floor and 64 apartments that would rent for $700 to $800 on the second floor.
The partners looked at federal tax breaks for affordable housing projects and opening up housing with vouchers for renters. But that would have meant limiting potential tenants who were students or earned too much to qualify for subsidized housing.
Wali and his partners abandoned the plan after realizing it would not make a profit, even if they received affordable housing tax credits.
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“It just didn’t go in pencil,” Wali said. “We noticed that there is a gap between those who receive housing allowance and those who pay market interest.”
Boise licensed eight apartments in 2009 and zero in 2010. That number grew to 731 in 2014 and 907 so far in 2015. Agents say the apartments are renting well, but more are needed.
Valley housing experts pointed to a recent project that has managed to thread the needle on affordable rent: Trailwinds Apartments in Garden City.
Located between Veterans Memorial Parkway and 42nd Street, the 64-unit complex is owned by Northwest Real Estate Capital Corp., a mission-driven nonprofit that provides affordable housing. The organization manages more than 600 units in the valley, 390 of which it owns. The development of the Macy’s building into affordable housing took place before being sold to Wali’s group.
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Trailwinds’ seven apartments are rented at market rate, ranging from $690 a month for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit to $1,000 a month for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo.
The remainder is available only to renters who earn 60 percent or less of the Ada County median household income by household size. Units range from $413 to $637 per month based on income for one-bed, one-bath units. Three-bedroom, two-bathroom units range from $570 to $805 per month.
While the Valley could use more developments like Trailwinds, the area also needs more affordable housing for renters who earn 60 to 80 percent of the area’s median household income, he said. Land and construction costs are simply too high to provide these housing options, Northwest Vice President Julie Marple said.
“A lot of the new housing that’s coming downtown doesn’t serve those families,” Marple said. “Idaho has a lot of lower-income people because we have a lot of low-wage jobs.”
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Construction of the $11 million Trailwind was only possible because the nonprofit is recouping $8 million in federal tax credits that it is passing on to its partner developer, VCD,
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