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Idaho renters struggle to keep up with costs, as rent costs continue to increase

"There are 5,700 individuals who are experiencing homelessness, and 25 percent of those individuals were children," Katie McInally with Jesse Tree said.

BOISE, Idaho — Rent is expensive and renters across the state cannot keep up; but if you're one of those renters, there is help.

According to Zillow, in Idaho since 2020, rent has gone up an average of $474.46! That's a 41 percent increase in three years. That ranks Idaho fourth in the nation for the biggest increase in that span. That's even with rent going down a little in the past few months.

Let's focus on Boise, where median monthly rent is more than $1,800. That works out to $22,104 every year. That's a major burden when you consider that the median individual income is just $33,548. 

That means, if someone has one job, about two-thirds of their income is going to rent in a single-earner household, which describes a lot of renters. By the way, experts recommend you spend, at most, 28 percent of your income on housing. So, 65.9 percent is more than double that. That is unsustainable, and according to people with Jesse Tree, which helps folks facing eviction, renters are desperate.

"I want to say this without scaring people," Jesse Tree’s Community Engagement Manager, Katie McInally, said. "There are 5,700 individuals who are experiencing homelessness, and 25 percent of those individuals were children. So, what we're seeing right now is a trend of children becoming homeless more often than we have seen in the past. And that is because rent prices have gone up so quickly in the last few years that single-parent households are really struggling."

Those numbers are from across the state. McInally says people are struggling so much, that each month, they're getting 3,000 calls for help and 300 applications for assistance just in the Treasure Valley. 

"People are feeling a little bit desperate right now. They are reluctant to reach out for help, which is something that we always tell people, 'Do not feel ashamed. You are not alone right now. There are a lot of people in your exact same situation.' And there's a lot of people in this situation who haven't been in this situation before," McInally said.

It's a situation people need to get out of, for their long-term financial health. Once eviction judgments are on your record, they are public information. Any potential landlord or employer can see that information with a simple background check, which can hurt your housing and employment prospects for decades. But you do have options.

“The most important thing to do if you are struggling or falling behind on rent is communicate with your landlord," McInally said. "Most landlords want to keep families in the homes just as much as the rest of us. That's how they make their living. And they are in this business because they want to provide housing for people. If you talk to your landlord, there's a good chance that they can work out a payment arrangement and you can self-resolve and get back up on your feet."

And not just get back on your feet but stay on your feet, according to McInally. "Jesse Tree's programs are proven to work. We see 92% of the people that we helped five years ago are still stably housed."

So, there's hope. If you are in need of a helping hand, visit Jesse Tree’s website

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