Supply of Affordable Apartments Not Keeping Up with Demand

The rent on the South Shore apartment Veeda Pryor has been living in since March used to be $700 a month, but the landlord reduced the price to $650 after the apartment was burglarized. The Chicago Tribune reported on November 15, 2011, that Pryor is now searching for what would be the fifth apartment she and her family have lived in since 2009. The college graduate, substitute teacher and mother of two teens told the Tribune that while living in one apartment with a monthly rent of $550, she had to use the oven for heat because the space heater supplied by the landlord short-circuited the apartment’s lights.

According to the Tribune, nearly 483,000 renters in Cook County needed affordable housing in 2009, but less than 303,000 rental units were considered affordable. According to a report from DePaul University’s Institute for Housing Studies, another 44,000 affordable apartments will be needed by 2020 because of various demographic and economic changes shaping the market.

While the DePaul report was based on the most recent census data and foreclosure and rent statistics, what the Tribune called a "potentially dire situation" is not just the result of neighborhoods crippled by the number of residents needing foreclosure help. Instead, rents are rising as household incomes are falling. While that problem has led file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the Tribune said the emerging trends makes younger renters even more at risk. Median rents increased 14 percent in the city and 13 percent in Cook County’s suburbs between 2005 and 2010 while income declined 25 percent between 2000 and 2009 among renters younger than 25.

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