More Poverty Challenges in Harbor Country

Housing Costs Skyrocketing Leaving Low-income Folks in the DUST!

It is no secret that Harbor Country, as well as much of the nation, lacks affordable housing and has for decades. It is estimated that there is a lack of 7 million affordable homes in the US. Affordable means paying no more than one-third of income for rent or mortgage. According to Rent.com, “Nationwide rent prices have increased significantly year-over-year. One- and two-bedroom rents were up 22.6 percent and 20.4 percent, respectively.” Ironically, average rental rates are higher than typical mortgage payments.

Here are some of the reasons people are feeling more of a crunch:

  • Landlords for rental homes and apartments are raising rents. A jump from $800 a month to $1,200 a month is pretty typical. Did your paycheck or retirement check jump up $400?
  • The new owners of the Oakview trailer park in Three Oaks last year raised lot rents by $180 a month and required a new $375 security deposit. Many residents moved out, some abandoning their trailers.
  • Moderately priced motels are jacking up their nightly rates. Neighbor by Neighbor receives calls for help from homeless people (many of whom are from this area-not strangers passing through) who need up to a week’s stay in a motel until their first paycheck comes through. The Super Inn in New Buffalo now charges $64 and not too long ago charged $35 per night. The Bridgman Inn on Red Arrow used to charge $40 but now charges $59. The Quality Inn in Sawyer used to charge $42/night and now charges $65.
  • Some local landlords are choosing to not renew leases when they are up. Without affordable alternatives, renters have no choice but to move out of Harbor Country. That has an impact on all of us through lower school enrollment and fewer consumers for local businesses, especially in the off season. Consolidating River Valley Schools is a decision influenced by the loss of families with children in recent years.

Cost of Used Cars Rises 41%

According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index for used cars and trucks jumped up by 41% from January 2021 to January 2022. While this is good news for people doing trade-ins or selling a car, it is terrible news to those needing a car.

Just Because You Can Fix One Thing Means it’s Enough to Work

A Neighbor by Neighbor client needed a new furnace earlier this winter. That is certainly not a project that can be delayed. She lives in a house with a dirt basement that has a tendency to flood. She was able to purchase a new furnace, and when her sump pump broke, the new furnace she paid for could not be used until the sump pump was replaced. She did not have the money to replace the sump pump. Fortunately, Neighbor by Neighbor found a source of help for her.

Social policy agenda items like housing, health care and infrastructure tend to receive focus in cycles. For instance, the concept of Medicare was brought up a number of times before it rose to the top of the national agenda in 1965. Affordable housing now appears to be rising to the top of the national (and local!) agenda as something that needs investment. State and federal funds are being designated to help repair existing housing, as well as building new. Watch for future articles on a groundswell of support for building affordable housing in Michigan.

Neighbor by Neighbor supports local efforts to improve existing housing, especially as it pertains to energy efficiency. There are several options available to local homeowners for weatherization services; call Neighbor by Neighbor at 269-231-0648 for more information. Neighbor by Neighbor also assists with rent/mortgage, utilities and car repairs.

 Linnea Berg

Neighbor by Neighbor

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16170 Red Arrow Hwy
Suite C7
Union Pier, MI 49129

Call Us: (269) 231-0648