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Columbia charity sees increase in assistance requests as rent prices soar


Those looking for a home are having a challenging summer as rent and temperatures are increasing.

Nationally, the average rental price increased 15% over the past year, according to a report from Redfin. Columbia residents are seeing those prices increase as well. The average rent price for a two-bedroom in Columbia is $890 -- which is slightly higher than the state average of $869, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The higher renting costs are part of a larger inflation problem nationwide, straining household budgets with increases in everything from food to fuel.

Jane Williams, executive director of Love Columbia, said the organization has seen a spike in calls for assistance. Love Columbia usually averages 90 calls a week, but in May that number jumped up to about 130 calls a week. Williams said about 75% of those are for housing.

"The most challenging times are those extreme heat and extreme cold in the winter," Williams said. "And that is when we often see a spike in requests for assistance."

Love Columbia had 144 families identify themselves as homeless in the first five months of 2022. The organization helped 90 households secure housing and helped 76 families find temporary housing.

"Which felt like a miracle in light of just the lack of rental property that seems to now be available, the increased rent and just people having a harder time finding something they can afford, especially three and four bedrooms," Williams said.

Love Columbia has a list of affordable housing on its website, but the list has few three- or four-bedroom units for under $1,000 a month.

"Wages have gone up in many cases, but they really haven't matched the price of rent and how that's gone up," Williams said. "We've really seen the people hit hardest by the pandemic and the subsequent housing crisis were the families with several children."

Jay Lybik, national director of multifamily analytics for Costar, said there are several reasons for the increased price of rent: Lack of affordable housing as developers are building new housing at the highest price point, lingering uncertainty from the pandemic and inflation.

"The increased cost of food, the increased cost of fuel," Lybik said. "I think that's had an impact also on multi-family demand because you know these households say we have to continue to rent because we don't have the means necessary to take that step to home ownership."

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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