Memphians feel the pinch as rent prices continue to rise

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Is your dollar not going the distance? If not, you’re not alone.

We’re all feeling the constraints increased prices are having on our finances. As many grapple with staying a float, some fear more people may become homeless. And, a lot of renters in our area are feeling the pinch.

So, just how bad is it? Some renters said they may have to agree to a 30% increase in rent or downgrade to a place within their budget. Even that may be difficult because there are not as many options out there as people would like. 

“It shouldn’t be to where they can just go and put whatever price they want on this rent. There definitely should be a limit,” said renter Cedric Johnson.               

Johnson has been renting a house in Southeast Shelby County since September 2020.

“Awesome neighborhood. For the money it is decent, but at the same time it’s high,” said Johnson.                

And, it’s going to get higher. Johnson pays just under $2,000 a month in rent, but he said a 10% increase is in his near future. 

“Income is not going up to match it, and it’s making it hard for people to manage,” Johnson said.

Some people across Shelby County have reported up to a 30% increase in rent.  That’s putting many of them in a financial chokehold.

“This is a structured problem. And, we always ask the most powerless, most abandoned people to solve a society structural problem,” said Elena Delaveva, University of Memphis Social Work Professor.                

Delvega said Americans struggling to make ends meet may have to pick up a second job, budget better and consider moving in with family members. But, they shouldn’t have to. 

“What we need to do is hold our elected officials to the promises to be there for everyone and not only a few. It’s very high time minimum wage goes up to $15,” said Delavega.                

Johnson believes the future is bleak.

“I think we may see a lot of people out here on the streets. A lot of people struggling to keep a roof over their head and food in their mouth,” said Johnson. 

While people across the Mid-South continue to grapple with price increases, the Memphis Housing Authority and partners broke ground for renovations to create more affordable housing in Memphis.