Michiganders seeing rent costs soar, affordable housing options depleted – The News Herald


Jack Sines didn’t think he would be in this position.

With average rents continuing to climb and affordable housing options scarce, thousands of Michigan renters are asking, “Where do we go?”

Rents have exploded across the country, causing many to dig deep into their savings, downsize to subpar units or fall behind on payments and risk eviction now that a federal moratorium has ended. Rental costs rose 0.5% in January from December, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

That may seem small, but it was the biggest increase in 20 years, and will likely accelerate.

Sines, 45, said his work hours have been reduced from 40 hours per week to 15-20 hours per week. This comes at the same time that rent costs for his two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment continue to climb.

Right now, his rent costs account for 75% of his monthly income. Since 2019, Sines’ monthly rent has increased from $1,025 to $1,440, a 40.4% increase.

“It’s been a struggle,” he said. “My rent has progressively gone up the last couple of years. I’m at a place where rent is going up and I’m working less hours. I would have been financially upside down if not for the state assistance I’ve received to help me out.”

For now, Sines said he’s caught up on his rent payments with the state assistance he has received helping to cover the past three payments. He has applied for and received three payments from the state to aid with rent and utilities.

“Going forward, I want to try to see if I can keep everything back under control with everything starting to go back to somewhat of what you would call normal,” he said. “If not, I might ask for assistance again. I’m hoping this was the last time I apply for assistance.”

According to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a two-bedroom rental unit averages $877 per month in Michigan. That’s a nearly 10% increase from 2018.

At the same time, Michigan’s affordable housing stock, rental units that rent for less than $800 per month, have been dropping significantly year-over-year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau data.

Between 2015-2019, the number of affordable housing units statewide has decreased by 18% from 541,677 units in 2015 to 443,079 units in 2019, the most recent data available.

In Wayne County, affordable housing stock dropped by 12% during that time period.



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