Residents of Northeast Spokane and even some from other areas in Spokane are facing significant impacts to their housing stability as well as their mental health. A recent online survey completed by residents showed that rental rate increases vary wildly and 91% of the respondents told us they were given notice of a rental rate increase. Financial resources to support families facing increased rent are limited and for many, nonexistent. The lack of support for families to maintain their current housing is leading to increased feelings of hopelessness as reported in the survey. Respondents also shared how the greater housing crisis is having a very personal impact on themselves and their families.
Of the 169 total Spokane residents (118 of whom were from Northeast zip codes) who responded to the survey, reported rental rate increases ranged from under $100 to up to $1000.
Nearly 65% of respondents who are experiencing a rental rate increase in Northeast Spokane report an increase of up to $200 or $2400 a year.
With a median income of $41,400 in NE Spokane, that’s approximately 6% more income dedicated to housing.
About 82% of residents are facing a monthly increase of up to $300 or $3,600 more per year (an additional 8.6% of income dedicated toward rent).
56% of families in NE who are facing $200-$300 rent increases are feeling hopeless
The range of rental rate increases intensifies when reported by respondents outside of Northeast Spokane, giving a peek into the shared stressors and unpredictability that renters are facing in all corners of Spokane. Some noteworthy differences reported by the just over 31% of respondents living outside of NE Spokane zip codes where the median income is $51,306:
49% are reporting a monthly increase of up to $200 ($2400 more per year)
8% of respondents are reporting $900-$1000 increase in rent
$12,000 is an additional 23% more of their income toward their rent
Nearly 17 % are reporting a monthly increase of $301-$400
$4,800 is an additional 9% more of their income going toward rent
These rental rates are often disproportionate to the incomes of renters. Landlords are not required to review tenant incomes prior to increasing rent, unlike in the qualification process that most renters go through in order to sign their original lease agreement. As a result, 78% of renters facing increased rent are worried about staying housed, while 20% are feeling hopeless.
Renters are not sitting back and waiting for something to save them. In fact, 82% of the respondents told us they are looking for more affordable options than where there are currently making a home for their family….52% report they are failing to find a home they can afford.
There is housing gridlock in Spokane due to few residents moving out of their current housing and a community-wide lack of housing supply, leaving residents with rental increases without options to move. When asked if respondents were likely to stay in their home and make the adjustments to their budget in order to stay in their home, 50% told us they were unlikely to stay. Another 11% were unable to say if they were likely or unlikely, and shared messages that spanned all types of issues families are facing in the current housing crisis, such as:
Inability to find a place with lower rent as there is a shortage of places on the market for rent
Moving costs and new deposits would be too many up-front costs to make a change, and
Some respondents reported already being behind on rent as an effect of covid.
For residents to qualify for the current City of Spokane Covid Rental Assistance program where landlords can be repaid for past due rent related to the pandemic, tenants will need to remain in their current home until their landlord is paid.
The overwhelming reason provided for people unable to safely say whether they felt they were likely to stay or not was that they have “no other choice.”
Residents living in Northeast Spokane are already working daily to overcome barriers to stability for their families. Northeast Spokane has many hard-working families. The barriers that many families within the diverse Northeast Spokane community face each day include access to reliable transportation, access to childcare that meets the needs of their work schedules, access to mental health services, and availability of affordable housing. Many Northeast residents were heavily impacted by the pandemic byways of job loss, COVID-19 illnesses and quarantines, and additional caregiving to children schooling at home reducing two incomes to one family income. There is still a lack of childcare to accommodate shiftwork where 60% of Northeast workers are already employed in the service industry.
Northeast residents and likely residents all over Spokane have a new need for resources to remain in their current housing or to find affordable options that allow for stable housing. The ZONE and community partners are offering financial coaching and supporting residents in accessing resources and budgeting that may offset the budgetary impact of sudden elevated rental rates, but it is not enough. More city, state, and federal strategies and policies to address rising housing costs and the lack of affordable housing are needed.