According to the latest data released by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies in January, a staggering number of Americans find themselves unable to afford their rent. The report revealed that a record high of 22.4 million renter households, accounting for half of all renters nationwide, were allocating more than 30% of their income towards rent in 2022. Additionally, the number of affordable rental units with rents under $600 dwindled to 7.2 million, marking a decrease of over two million units compared to a decade earlier.
Elizabeth Dominguez, speaking to FOX6 News, expressed the immense strain that soaring rent prices have placed on her community. “Everything is extremely expensive,” she lamented, highlighting how her family’s rent had skyrocketed from around $600 to over a thousand dollars. Despite facing these challenges, Dominguez acknowledged that their ability to manage was partly due to their employment status, acknowledging the difficulties faced by those with more modest incomes.
Maudwella Kirkendoll, from the Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center, noted a significant increase in individuals seeking assistance in the past six to eight months due to their inability to afford their rent. This surge in demand has stretched resources thin, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. However, Kirkendoll highlighted the availability of energy assistance programs that can offer some financial relief, which they are integrating with their housing services to support those in need.
Families like the Dominguez’s on Milwaukee’s south side are persevering through these challenges, with limited options available to them. Dominguez emphasized the necessity of both her and her husband working, especially with their two daughters pursuing college education. Despite the hardships they face, they remain resilient in their determination to make ends meet.