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Affordable rental housing plummeting nationwide and across Metro

In Sarpy County the number of vacant affordable rental units dropped from 200 a couple of years ago to just 17 last month
Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 10:47 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Affordable housing is getting harder and harder to find across the nation and the Metro.

Apartment Guide’s annual Rent Report shows a 5 percent jump for two-bedroom apartments and while they may not sound like a leap it’s enough to price people out of their homes.

In Sarpy County the number of vacant affordable rental units has dropped from 200 a couple of year ago to just 17 vacant units this May.

“I have my full-sized bed, I’ve got a little toddler bed next to me and my oldest grandson if he sleeps the night, he’s next to me because there’s not place for him,” said Barbara Meyers, who’s lived in Sarpy County for more than a decade.

“For someone who only makes 14 dollars an hour fulltime and you still have utilities and a kid -- especially a teenager it’s not easy. It’s not easy to make ends meet,” she said, noting she’s been looking for a more spacious place. “And I still can’t afford it.”

The Housing Foundation for Sarpy County tracks the number of vacant affordable rental units. “What they used to rent for say a one bedroom unit at $700 to $800 they’re now renting for $1,000 a month,” said Carolyn Pospisil, Executive Director, Housing Foundation for Sarpy County.

That’s $300 dollars more each month and for a lot of people it’s not doable. “If you’re on limited income and you’ve had the same job for five years and you’re making $40,000 or $50,000 a year and your rent goes up by $300 that just enough to sink someone.”

Linny Ott is a single mom who more recently moved to Sarpy County with her three children.

“To get anything that would fit all three of us comfortably,  it’s really hard,” she said. “I’m used to being the country. I moved up to the city for my kids and that was a huge jump for me to come out to this area and almost double my rent.”

As for Barbara Meyers she’s going to keep looking for a place to fit her family. And,  in the meantime hope her rent doesn’t go up.

“I’m not one that wants a big house or anything like that, but something simple and comfortable.”

Last year Nebraska lawmakers passed a bill aimed at getting cities to invest in more affordable housing requiring them to submit a plan by 2023 outlining how they’ll bolster the number of available units.

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