Rents On Way Up

- Rochester, NY (WROC) - Thousands of people who live in rental housing are being squeezed by a big rise in rent. Home ownership is down and renters are paying a price.

Rochester resident, Saul Maniero, was recently forced to move out of his East Avenue apartment.

"I got my rent raised probably three times in a three year period, and it was kind of like, I could no longer afford what they were charging," explains Maniero. He says his rent went from $700 to $900.

A report out last week shows average rents in Rochester are up 10% over the last four years; that's nearly twice the rate of inflation.

A one-bedroom now averages $757 per month, up $68 since 2011, and a two bedroom averages $819; up from $56.

Mark Siwiec owns rental properties and is a real estate agent.

"Everybody's renting, so what we're getting are these incredible occupancy rates," says Siwiec. "My properties? we're near 100%!"

There are several factors in the rental boom. For instance, it's harder to get a mortgage these days. Many older people want a carefree lifestyle and renting can offer that, and many young people are saddled with student loans and they're waiting to start families.

"A lot of the first-time homebuyers are just waiting a longer period of time before they actually purchase. That's a big part of it," explains Siwiec.

Homeownership rates fell dramatically in the Rochester area. The census reports in 2007, 74% of units were owner-occupied. That's compared to 64% in 2013, and while rents are climbing, home prices are steady.

That's something Kristen Feese, who just moved into an apartment, has noticed.

"I was thinking the next move I make would probably be to own a home because of the high rent," admits Feese. "It seems more worth it; a better investment."

Higher rents can take a huge toll on people who haven't seen their incomes go up as much, but they hit low-income renters hardest.

One study showed there are only 22 affordable and availabel units for every 100 extremely poor families in Rochester.

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