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Boise's hot housing market leaves some renters struggling to cover growing costs

Springs of Royal Oaks sent notice of increased rent to dozens of residents, some going up more than $300 on May 1.

BOISE, Idaho — In the last year, Boise's rent has grown by more than 15%, coupled with a pandemic that has left thousands unemployed in the Gem State, rising housing costs are the newest challenge many Boiseans are facing.

For 33-year-old Justin Savage, who lives at Springs of Royal Oaks in Boise, he is facing a $240 hike in rent on May 1 after his landlord sent a letter to residents about the new hike in rent.

“As you have completed a lease with us and have remained loyal, we are offering a $100 discount,” the note said. “Rather than raising your rent to current market rent levels, we will continue to discount your rent by $100.”

Savage said he felt awful reading it.

“It makes us feel like we should be grateful for them,” he explained.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, 35% of low-income households in Idaho are burdened by the cost of their rent, meaning over 30% of their income goes straight to their monthly housing costs.

Boise rent has gone up 16% since March 2020, according to a study done by Apartment List. The study also said Boise rent rose 3.4% in March 2021.

Savage and his roommate currently pay $1,095 a month for their two-bedroom apartment, while the current median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,078. If he was to sign another lease, his rent would go up to $1,335, an increase of about 22%.

“In the event you find this unacceptable you may give us a 30-day notice to vacate,” the notice said. “It is not our desire, but we recognize that financial constraints may make this your only option.”

Savage said he does not have the option to leave since he is currently unemployed.

He added renters would not be willing to let him sign a lease without a steady income, so he will have to find other ways to pay his increased monthly rent.

“It’s just a lot of cutbacks and some of it's even going to come into our nutrition,” the 33-year-old said. “I’m still kind of in this crisis mode where I’m pulling my hair out trying to think of what I’m going to do.”

Springs of Royal Oaks sent the same letter out to dozens of other tenets, some seeing as much as a $315 increase in their monthly rent beginning on May 1.

“I feel like it’s just a very greedy thing to do,” Savage said. “I’m just so disappointed and I can’t fathom how someone can do this in the middle of a pandemic.”

There is assistance out there for those struggling to pay rent in Boise and Ada County through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

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