Rent hikes impact community, forcing Tallahassee neighbors to consider alternate options

Rent hikes and wage increases are not currently aligned, forcing many neighbors out of their homes This disparity is significantly impacting the 32304 ZIP code where over 50 percent of year income is spent on housing, according to U.S. Census Bureau Watch the video to find out prices increases are affecting neighbors across our city and ways you can navigate the market


High rental costs in our city are forcing some neighbors to make difficult decisions. When price increases and wage increases do not match, I’m finding out how they’re navigating these costs.

It’s been a month of tough choices for Elizabeth Lesiak.

“I don’t want to have to leave a town I’ve been in decades,” said Lesiak.

Her landlord informed her recently her rent is going up by 37 percent from June.

“It’s put me in a very tight situation for my income,” said Lesiak who has been left with 3 options. “Finding another place to rent, buying, or having to leave town.”

So, she’s trying her hand at home ownership with the help of Laura Eddy with 12 Points Real Estate.

“Working with their budget, we found out that it is a little bit cheaper for them to buy,” said Eddy.

Although Lesiak currently lives on the other side of town, Eddy said increases in the housing market are being felt by a large number of of her clients.

“Prices are not matching salaries because salaries haven’t moved,” explained Eddy.

Jeff Ragan, with Friendly Real Estate Group in Northwest Tallahassee, said opting for home ownership because of high rents isn’t an option for everyone.

“Doing whatever they can just to afford what they’re currently living in, let alone buy a new house,” said Ragan.

Lesiak said she does not want to be rent poor. The Federal Reserve defines rent burdened as someone spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

That’s common for our neighbors in the 32304 ZIP code where the median household income is just under $28,000 but the average rent is $1,310, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Zillow.

It is encouraging more people to turn to affordable housing. Brenda Williams with the Tallahassee Housing Authority said for their latest development in Columbia Gardens, they received 3500 applicants.

However, Lesiak said she does trust her decision and she is hopeful for the future.

“It’s a dicey kind of navigation you have to do,” said Lesiak.

Eddy recommends looking over your budget and speaking with a real estate agent or financial advisor to understand your options. Lesiak encouraged anyone in her position to complete the pre-approval process so you know what you can spend.

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