By Victor Omondi
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rent of lavish apartments in big cities plunged, with landlords cutting prices by hundreds or thousands of dollars. The landlords were also lacing their goodies with free amenities and perks.
However, in many parts of the country, rents for lower-income apartments either remained the same or increased, worsening the housing inequality. The pandemic affected not only the health of the population but also their economic status. Several people were forced to look for a few options for affordable and safe housing.
Special correspondent and Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell has the story on the pandemic’s impact on housing. According to a New York City resident, Brett Vergara, who just acquired the Brooklyn apartment of his dreams, “I look out here and feel lucky and humbled and grateful.” Vergara feels lucky because he acquired this 49th-floor view at a fair cost.
As reported by Economist Nancy Wu, StreetEasy, and Zillow, “Rents have been dropping significantly, especially in dense urban areas such as New York City and San Francisco. The biggest discounts are in some of the most expensive neighborhoods, and anywhere up to five months of free rent.”
Vergara, a tech worker, initially had zeroed in on the building in August, when he was still living with his three roommates. Then, in October, the apartment was listed for $3,000, almost $1,000 lower than what it had rented for before the pandemic. He then watched the price decline each day for three months.
However, not everyone is getting such amazing deals. Fayee Porter, a tent organizer in Chicago, is one of the many people who’ve been fighting rent hikes after losing their jobs because of the pandemic.
“Higher-income renters, who still kept their job, who have strong credit scores and have some assets have taken advantage of low-interest rates in this time to become first-time homeowners. Though for low-income renters who lost their jobs, they see somewhat higher rents at the low end of the rental sector,” said Economist Jenny Schuetz.
“The only way we can fight is by getting organized because everyone is entitled to safe, decent, and affordable housing,” Porter told Rampell.
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