WACO, TX — Rent prices are on the rise in Central Texas and many are struggling to find an affordable place to live.
Ongoing research by Apartment List, which tracks the estimated rent costs in cities across the country, shows that in June 2017 the estimated average rent cost in Waco was $882. As of June 2021, that number has risen to $1,094.
Several people in the area have noted their struggles with finding housing. One of those people is Jett Hedden, who is currently living with friends as she cannot find a place that will accept her based on her income.
"You have people like myself who are marginalized," Hedden said. "I'm not necessarily poor, but I'm not necessarily making enough to prove that I can live a normal, regular life."
Many rental property management companies require prospective tenants to show proof of income that is at least three times the cost of rent.
"For a $1200 a month house, I have to bring home $3600 a month. And I don't do that. I'm a single mom. I have one income; I have a regular job," she said.
Several others are having similar issues.
"I have been looking for months!! Currently paying over 900 a month for a 1 bedroom!!" wrote one user on Facebook about her search for housing in the Waco area.
The city of Waco is currently in the midst of looking deeper into the issue of housing scarcity.
"We're currently in the process of doing a housing study, so we can address the issue and make affordable housing available to our community," said Raynesha Hudnell, interim director of community services in Waco.
An interim update on the status of that housing study is expected on July 20.
She also mentioned that for those that are already renting but are struggling to make payments, Waco has a rental assistance program that can be used for up to 12 months.
Regardless of her circumstances, Hedden said she understands that property taxes are likely driving some increases in rent by property managers.
"The bottom line is, if you've got people in your life who are going through struggles like me, be kinder than necessary," she said. "And also, if you're an employer, check on your people. If they're not making it, there's a reason why."