Speed Reads

coronavirus fallout

The pandemic may have made lower-end apartments more expensive

Rent in high-income neighborhoods in many major American cities has gone down during the pandemic, but lower-income neighborhoods have seen hikes, Catherine Rampell writes in The Washington Post.

In San Francisco, for example, rents are dropping across the board, though the fall has been most significant for what are considered high-end rentals. In other cities, like New York or Washington, D.C., lower-end rentals have held steady, while higher-end prices have dropped. In her analysis, Rampell zeroed in on Chicago, where rents are increasing in lower-income areas, despite a fall in their higher-income counterparts.

There are likely a few reasons behind the discrepancy, Rampell writes. People who could afford higher rents before the pandemic have, more generally, been able to work from home and subsequently migrated to the suburbs, leaving their city apartments vacant, which "placed downward pressure on rents." But not everyone who moved left their cities. Some folks instead chose to "move down the housing ladder to save money," which added to a pre-existing logjam for affordable housing. A "surge in demand for lower-price-point homes ended up bidding those rents higher," Rampell writes.

Rampell suggests the increases may also be an unintended consequence of the federal eviction moratorium, which may have led landlords to raise rents for some tenants in the hopes of offsetting the losses stemming from others falling behind on their payments. Lower-income tenants also just have less leverage than high-income tenants. "They don't have money to move elsewhere, and landlords know they have them over a barrel," said Sandy Rollins, executive director of the Texas Tenants' Union. Read more at The Washington Post.