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Regular Contributor

Struggling with Escalating Rent

From what I have read, ever since the housing bubble burst, more people are renting instead of buying homes, causing rents to soar.  Investing in apartment buildings has become profitable, and the companies managing them are more interested in generating profits for their investors than they are in the welfare of their tenants.  However, the knowledge that I am in a crowded, leaking boat does not help me prevent it from sinking.

 

When I moved into my one bedroom apartment fifteen years ago, I could afford it.  Now, I manage to pay my rent from the income I derive from Social Security and my part time job.  Each year, the rent increases get larger and more monthly fees for services I neither need nor use are added.  As a result, I've turned frugality into a near art form, trimming all the fat I can from my budget, but I recoil at cutting into its muscle and bone.  What awaits me when my lease expires in February 2020 deeply concerns me.

 

My previous attempts at navigating the more affordable housing maze have resulted in dead ends.  Thanks to the cosmetic renovation craze, apartments offering far less than mine are now priced not that much less or even more than the one I currently lease.  What family I have prefers the cold of the north, while I enjoy calling Jacksonville, Florida home.  HUD and income-based senior housing have waiting lists one to two years long.  Plus, they require you to move in as soon as a unit becomes available, which would cost me two month's rent to break my lease. 

 

I visit Craigslist and other roommate websites.  Nearly everyone there wants a room, has a room to rent, or is looking to share with someone as young as they are.  I may be a minimalist, but I do own furniture and enough kitchen paraphernalia to cook for myself. 

 

The hope I retain is that I can find another person in a similar situation who has reached the same conclusion I have - that splitting the expenses of renting a decent two bedroom two bath apartment is preferable to huddling in a crummy efficiency where it is dangerous to be out after dark.

 

I thought this community would be a suitable place to nudge serendipity in that direction.  This post is the result of my contacting AARP about forming a Roommate Registry for solvent adults seeking responsible housing partners. 

 

If you would like to advise, commiserate, or better still, provide a viable solution, your response would be welcome and appreciated. 

 

 

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Regular Contributor

Following AngelaS579497's advice and after reading the headline in yesterday's newspaper which reported the state is taking $283 million from its fund designated for affordable housing to use on wastewater and sea rise projects, I called AARP Florida this morning.

I made suggestions to Norm, who answered my call, about AARP sponsoring a roommate registry, creating a forum where housing could be discussed, or some sort of electronic bulletin board.  He listened to me politely and said he would pass on my information.

Yet again, I've renewed my lease for another year of miserly living to make ends meet.  I've deleted my Craigslist ad, which didn't net me any workable responses as well.  

I've done all I can think to do on my own.  As I've recently read that demand for affordable housing in Florida is four times the amount of available places and there are now more Realtors than they are properties listed, I don't have much hope for the future.

Trusted Contributor

Hi Bee Rambles!  Just wanted to pop in to say hello.  If only I was on the East Coast, I think we would be perfect roommates!  I'm still hanging in over here in Oregon.  Still expensive but some new renter's laws have helped a bit.  For example, rent cannot be raised more than 9.9% in one year.  Before that, the sky was the limit.  

 

All talk here about "affordable housing" centers around getting our huge homeless population off the street.  Nothing goes towards helping struggling seniors who already have a place to live, affordable or not.  I've also checked various senior service centers but most have basically shut down during the pandemic.  Kudos to you for calling AARP but I suspect liability could be an issue for them. 

 

Anyway, let's keep in touch via this thread and who knows?  The right person might read this at just the right time.....

Regular Contributor

Hi Berty B Gone,

 

Well, we're certainly ideologically compatible if geographical opposites.  However, sharing living space with someone does involve more than getting along.

 

I agree with you that help tends to go to those who are worse off than we who manage to scrimp and save but still get by.  Some sort of rent relief would be welcome, but I think society expects us to be the ones who provide it, which brings us to ageism in the workplace and its barriers of prejudice. 

 

In today's paper it was reported that people who have gotten behind on their rent due to the pandemic are now eligible for rent relief from the state of Florida.  I guess people who have learned how to do without in order to  stay out of debt don't merit such attention.    

 

Glad to know someone else's best shot at resolution seems to be luck too.  Maybe by keeping this thread alive, we will better our chances for recognition and possible relief.

Social Butterfly

Hi @BeeRambles thanks for the update, much appreciated. I wish I could stomach moving back to Florida (left in 2015) so I could work on creating Tiny Home Communities seniors could rent. I luv this concept and wish my state (Virginia) was zoned for them 😞 Anyway, moving forward, it may take a group of fellow seniors to solve the problem. Have you thought about approaching Senior Centers, local news media, local government and so on? It is CHEAPER to PREVENT homelessness versus RESCUING the homeless. Lol, Iike you, I want to AVOID being homeless. In my case been homeless and way too OLD to repeat that journey.

Regular Contributor

Angela,

 

It was hard enough to make that phone call.  

Social Butterfly

Hi @BeeRambles and others, does anyone know how we would go about approaching AARP for their backing in getting affordable and safe housing for seniors?

 

I live in Virginia, been living in a cute studio apartment since moving out of the local homeless shelter. I have no interest in being homeless again and totally on board with this thread. Now to move forward in getting our local AARP chapters involved in the hopes of convincing the CEO of this crisis. Meanwhile, please be safe all!!!

Regular Contributor

Congratulations for finding yourself a home, Angela.  You survived my worst nightmare.  

 

When I contacted AARP with regards to forming a roommate registry, my response to their advice is the post which began this thread two years ago.

 

A roommate registry or some sort of local bulletin board would be helpful, as AARP is a central site for seniors to visit. 

Another idea would be repurposing now vacant buildings for affordable residential uses where, perhaps, kitchens and laundries could be shared while bedrooms and bathrooms remain private.  

All I can hope is that AARP monitors its website, see how popular some posts are, and passes the information on to whoever is responsible for getting things done.

Social Butterfly

Hi @BeeRambles thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to respond 😀 Personally I would not feel safe (murder, rape, stuff stolen, etc. Background checks can only do so much) with a roommate setup or stable (people run out on leases, refuse to pay their part), but that is just me. Did it a few times in my 20's, swore the last time, never again. By living by myself, I am the only one with access to my stuff and always pay my rent early (as soon as I got paid near 1st of each month, now as soon as my Social Security goes into my bank) and electric as soon as the bill arrives electronically. I am very fortunate to now be on my daughter's cell phone plan. She insisted. My old person PRIDE took a blow but knew she offered out of luv. For many years, I use to buy the buy-the-minutes phone cards. In my 60's now and want to rent a tiny cottage somewhere in Virginia where I have been living since 2015. It was Florida before that. Florida is zoned for Tiny Homes, but I have to avoid moving back there, too much family drama although I do miss my only child (a daughter) who was born there. She had gotten an awesome job offer in Arlington, Virginia and with me being divorced was not staying in Florida without her. She had never left Florida in her life. So I moved, to Manassas, Virginia which was not too far from her and less expensive. Arlington is so expensive!!! Anyway, she never liked Virginia and moved back to Florida. I thought about going back, but had nightmares about the hell I had lived in for over 40 years there. So here I was, in a state by myself, my reason for living way too far away. I gave up and became homeless. Between that and the awful economy in Manassas (businesses closing 2017), this old lady reached out with a Tiny House Idea to ALL Virginia HABITAT FOR HUMANITY. I only received responses from 2. One in Richmond and one in Roanoke. They both let me know they dealt only in large housing for families and Tiny Homes would not work. But Ms. Jenny from the Roanoke one told me about their local homeless shelter. My area's shelter had 3 pages on their waiting list. No surrounding locations would take me in, you had to be a resident for 90 days. I called the Roanoke Rescue Mission and they had a bed for me. I am so GRATEFUL to them and now VOLUNTEER there since retiring last year JULY 2020. Bottom line, America needs to do better with making sure their elderly are not HOMELESS. One lady 90 years old passed away in her sleep at the shelter. Sad 😭 That could be any if us!!! I spent 13 long months in the shelter, saving $5,000 to buy a 2006 Hyundai Elantra so I could keep my job with Carilion Hospital. And pay the DEPOSITS on my studio apartment and to get my electric turned on. Car tag, title, insurance, car repairs. Bus service is a joke. Stops at 7pm weekdays. 4pm Saturdays. Zero on Sundays. 1st bus, 7am/lol. Not a way to keep a job and I NEEDED to get my own place. ZERO housing help as didnot meet their qualifications. Anyway, I did it, this AUGUST will be 3 YEARS in my cute studio apartment. Lol, broke, but happy to not be in a shelter. No sleep at night or quiet during the day, lucky if I get a parking spot = reason for my goal to rent a tiny cottage 😉

Regular Contributor

I'm sorry you've had bad experiences with roommates.  Though I've had a couple myself, most have been good.  My last roommate and I shared a house together for seven years before she died.  

Although renting a tiny cottage does seem ideal,  it's the affordability of one that is the prohibitive factor as rents continue to soar.  That is why pairing up to split the costs seems to me like the more feasible choice.  

Still, glad to know you ended up on your feet and good luck finding your tiny dream cottage.  

Contributor

Same struggle here in Buffalo, NY. I am on a fixed income and the waiting lists for affordable housing are five plus years. Rents are almost as much as my income. I have lived in the same apartment for twenty years. But the place is declining and last night I found my water has been shut off! She hasn’t paid it since December! I don’t know what to do. I turn her in I risk losing my space.

Regular Contributor

Water is a basic utility.  Report her.  

Contributor

Well, I must have faith and hope for the best.

I called the Health Department and Neighborhood Legal Services today. She was not responding to my texts...I AM DONE!!

I also told them about the squirrels in the attic and rats in the basement. This place will be condemned and I have no where to go. 

Regular Contributor

Neighborhood Legal Services may also be able to assist you with housing.  Ask them.

Periodic Contributor

At age 75, i decided to buy a 2 story townhouse. That was 3.5 years ago. I lived previously in a 55 plus rental. A really nice 2 bedroom cottage with a garage. I loved it there. Lots to do and regular exercise program. But, rent kept going up. Except for utilities and HOA fee of an xtra $240 A month, my home payment is half with a 15 yr mtg. So I plan on staying as long as I can get up those 16 stairs.

 I think some kind of registry would be nice, but don't know if AARP is the one to take it on. I think it benefit us to take it up with city planning. I wish they would plan for tiny homes with a small front porch, in a walkable community, with grocery and stores nearby. And of course, near my family ( that is the 'catch').

Newbie

I'm very interested in your Registry.  I live in San Francisco and for 38 years lived in a rent-controlled building.  In January, the entire building was evicted through the Ellis Act.  Since then, I've been crashing with friends.  I'm old enough to know that can't last long.  My search for housing has thus far proved fruitless.   Your idea of a Roommate Registry just might be the ticket.  I wish you good luck.

Regular Contributor

Voltaire 1,

 

Isn't it just like the government to rescind a perfectly good solution like rent control for us people on fixed income.  I recently read in AARP's newsletter than 80% of seniors will be renting.  Just how much blood do these suckers think they can get out us turnips?  Are tent cities for seniors in the future for us grasshoppers that don't have the funds to buy and have to rent? 

 

 

Regular Contributor

For those of us experiencing escalating rents, it's difficult to save monies.  I recycle, use coupons, buy "day old" & "manager's specials," seek out thrift & consignment outlets, pay cash for purchases, take public transportation (bus) & drive a 15-year-old paid-for car.  I also cut the cable tv cord a little over 3 years ago (haven't missed it) & unplug outlets when not in use.  Every little bit helps.

 

Conversationalist

The next thing that is as sure as death and taxes, rent will go up.  It is not necessarily because the owner of the apartment complex wants it to, but because of property tax values.   I have lived in houses most of my life but the day came when I realized I could no longer handle the upkeep, as I lived alone.  Being over 55, I looked into various apartment complexes, I then visited Independent Living communities.  After visiting about 7 or 8, I found a very affordable apartment.  The rent included all the utilities except the phone!  At the time I moved in, it was a non-profit complex, but was sold to a for-profit outfit.  What did that mean?  Rents went up naturally!  While we still get all the utilities included in the rent, it has gotten to a level that is worrisome.  My Social Security is paying the rent so that makes keeping SS solvent for us seniors.  My only advice (and something I have done) is cut out the frills.  No magazine subscriptions (except AARP of course!), a cheap plan for a cell phone (Consumer Cellular is a winner), and watch the budget.  Try to save money if at all possible and set up an emergency fund for rent, etc.  Work with the landlord if you maybe have to delay the payment (can't pay on the first because you SS comes later).  It is not a perfect plan but  every little bit helps.

Gold Conversationalist

Move somewhere more affordable!

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Regular Contributor

Duh!  Wasn't that the point of my post? 

 

I am looking for an acceptable way to go about doing just that.

 

Still, thanks for reading and responding. 

Trusted Contributor

I am in exactly the same position you are, BeeRambles, and it does scare me.  I'm pretty sure my landlord plans to renovate my apartment building soon, which means I'll be forced out.  I have no idea where I'll end up.  Rents in Oregon have skyrocketed over the last 3-4 years.  I'm living a bare bones existance, driving a 23 year old car, etc. 

 

What state do you live in?  Wouldn't it be great if you said Oregon?  Smiley Happy

 

I would LOVE to know about a reliable and safe rental referral service that can  either direct me to low cost senior housing or put me in touch with another senior in my position that would like to share an apartment and expenses.  

Periodic Contributor

Seniority is the same here in Tampa, except senior housing has a 4 year at least waiting list and are not taking new names. One bedroom apts are expensive. I too am retired, older (82), and with limited income, even though I worked 55 years as an RN, BSN, and was Certified with ANCC. My husband was a retired USAF officer who for unknown reasons did not leave me Survivor Benefits that I did not learn about until after he died. He had no life insurance (I was not aware of that either). He left me in a fix. Our home was not liveable after a hurricane removed the roof and it had extensive water damage and was beyond repair. I sold the property at a huge loss. I’m now 82. I’ve had a heart attack and a triple CABG. I fell a year and 1/2 ago and fractured my distal femur above where I had a total knee replacement. It was a comminuted fracture (bone broken into small pieces) and Physical Therapy did not think that I would ever walk again. I do walk, but use an UpWalker or a folding walker. I walk everyday up to 3 miles per day. I would love to find someone to share a house or apartment with. I can cook light meals. I currently live with my son, but would rather have other arrangements.

Robbi 

Gold Conversationalist

Sorry to go off-topic. But the story in this post really upsets me (sorry, ma'am!)

 

I have heard of this sort of situation before and I just don't understand it!

 

How can a loving husband not take care of things, and make arrangements, for when his beloved spouse is a widow? How can these guys live for today and not give a thought to the security of their loved ones? I'm sure there are many possible reasons ranging along the spectrum of irresponsibility or uncaring ...ranging from cluelessness at the low end (highly irresponsibility but perhaps not too uncaring) on up to knowing what's up and just being uncaring and selfish.

 

Oh, this makes me so upset!

 

 

 

 

 


@Robbi75 wrote:

...I too am retired, older (82), and with limited income, even though I worked 55 years as an RN, BSN, and was Certified with ANCC. My husband was a retired USAF officer who for unknown reasons did not leave me Survivor Benefits that I did not learn about until after he died. He had no life insurance (I was not aware of that either). He left me in a fix. ...


 

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Regular Contributor

In my friend's case, her late husband turned out to be an abusive batterer.  When all was said and done, and after she filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, she dumped/trashed/sold whatever belongings he'd left behind.  They'd had a small celeb photography business, the contents of which she was later able to sell, leaving her with a little bit of monies but not much.  Not enough for long-term survival.  It boggles the mind, even now, all of these years later, that he left her in ruins.  

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Same thing happened to a friend of mine many years ago.  Her husband suffered a recoverable stroke & then a massive one.  When he died, she was left to pick up the pieces, putting his Medicare balances & funeral expenses on credit cards when then, in turn, led to bankruptcy.  He had not a dime of life insurance.  When I asked, she just shrugged: "Just goes to show much how much he really cared about me."  

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Robbi 75,

 

My sympathies for your plights. 

 

I live in Jacksonville, Florida and am hoping to find someone willing and able to sign a lease on an apartment with me.  That is why I gave myself a year to find someone and get to know them before taking such a big step. 

 

I hope by sharing your situation here you find someone suitable to split expenses with as well. 

 

Thank you for replying.   

 

Regular Contributor

It seems that rents are increasing at such a rate, they've become fodder for comic strips.  In Sally Forth on Monday, Ted predicted his daughter would need 12 roommates in order to live in the city when she grew up.  Reading that prompted me to find another way to approach to my need for a roommate.

 

There are several roommate websites out there, but other than Craigslist, I had yet to find one that did not charge a fee.  Since entrepreneurs profiting from my plight without providing any guarantee of help seemed too great a risk for me to take on my limited means, I haven't investigated any.

 

The other day, on a whim, I Googled senior roommates and found a website called Senior Home Shares, and it is free.  Since you get what you pay for, its terms of use exonerates itself of any chicanery on the part of any of its members, but it also provides sound advice on how to avoid dishonesty.  Since I've only recently discovered it, I can't recommend it, but it seemed genuine to me and easy to use, so I'm giving it a try. 

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Though we seem to be in the same predicament, BertieBGone, we don't live in the same state unfortunately.  My home is Florida, so it is a nationwide problem, just as  I thought. 

 

A couple of years ago, the latest owners of the apartment complex I live in renovated the apartment while I was living in it.  That was a horrid experience where I felt like I was their employee rather than their tenant.  I had to empty out all my cabinets, clean up after the workmen, and for three days, use only the bathtub to wash everything.  Not only that, I got a close up view of what a slipshod job they did, none of which I, or even the apartment manager, could get them to repair.  For all that inconvenience and unnecessary cosmetic cover-up, I was charged $100 more a month in rent.  Therefore, you have my sympathy. 

 

Since I have yet to find any resource where rent burdened seniors can congregate to find potential roommates, I made my post here as a start. 

 

Good luck to you, BertyBGone, and thank you for replying.

Periodic Contributor

Bee Rambles where in Florida do you live? I am in Tampa. It would be wonderful if there were some sort of group that matched comparable people to be housemates. I think it could help some of us who can’t afford to find places to live. We have lots of senior housing here but it is all full with long waiting lists. The same was true in NC where I was living before I came to Florida.

Robbi

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