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Are the rents too damn high?

An apartment maintenance man changes the lock of an apartment after constables posted an eviction order in Phoenix, Arizona. Thousands of court-ordered evictions continue nationwide despite a Centers for Disease Control moratorium for renters impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Although state and county officials say they have tried to educate the public on the protections, many renters remain unaware and fail to complete the necessary forms to remain in their homes. With millions of Americans still unemployed due to the pandemic, federal rental assistance proposals remain gridlocked in Congress.
An apartment maintenance man changes the lock of an apartment after constables posted an eviction order in Phoenix, Arizona. Thousands of court-ordered evictions continue nationwide despite a Centers for Disease Control moratorium for renters impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Although state and county officials say they have tried to educate the public on the protections, many renters remain unaware and fail to complete the necessary forms to remain in their homes. With millions of Americans still unemployed due to the pandemic, federal rental assistance proposals remain gridlocked in Congress.

In 2010, New York gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillian honed in on a singlular campaign message. 

“The rent is too damn high.”

And he may have been on to something.New York City holds the top spot for rental costs — it passed San Francisco last year. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in New York City is just over $3,200 per month, while someone in San Francisco is looking at about $2,800 per month. 

But when it comes to whose rent is rising fastest… Austin, Texas, is on top. Austin’s rental rates for new leases rose 40 percent over the last year, according to Redfin’s rental market tracker

Rates across the country are increasing. According to online apartment rental site Zumper, average rent increased 12 percent in 2021 and is now at an all-time high. 

Why are they rising now? And what can tenants, landlords, and policymakers do about it? 

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