May 23, 2018

Rental Parties Show Rising Rent Burden

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Rental Parties Show Rising Rent Burden

A nonprofit group, Enterprise Community Partners, is putting a modern-day spin on rent parties to draw more attention to the lack of affordable housing, NPR reports. It has launched a campaign called “Make Room” and posts videos online of its events to raise awareness of a growing rental problem faced by families across the nation.

Read more: Best Places to Be a Renter

The idea for rent parties actually comes from the early 1900s when people who struggled to pay rent would hold a party in their home. They would sell tickets at the door and visitors would come in often for music and dancing.

Today’s parties often still use music as a hook to draw in attendees to the person’s home, but an online fundraising campaign then helps raise funds for struggling renters.

For example, in Annapolis, Md., about 20 people gathered recently in the apartment of Tom Wall, 67, to listen to a concert by classical violinist Tim Fain, who played in the movie “Black Swan.”

Wall left his job as a lawyer in the housing and finance industry shortly after having a stroke in 2011. He and his wife could no longer pay their mortgage and foreclosed on their home. Wall then moved into an apartment where since his wife has died he must pay $1,600 a month on rent alone, which takes up more than two-thirds of his paycheck from Social Security each month. He is trying to bring in roommates to help pay the rent when he can.

A record number of renters – 11.4 million -- are devoting more than half of their incomes on rent, an alarming trend housing analysts note.

Besides helping to sponsor events for struggling renters, the Make Room campaign, launched in May 2015, advocates for policies such as inclusionary zoning and dedicated funding sources to help spur more construction and preservation of affordable homes.

“The shortage of affordable rental homes is a worsening, nationwide problem that must be addressed,” says Angela Boyd, managing director of Make Room. “Focus tends to center around affordability issues in high-density, high-cost coastal cities, but the data shows that mid-size cities across the country have felt the squeeze most during the past decade.”

Source: and “Modern Rent Parties Highlight the Need for Affordable Housing,” NPR (Jan. 27, 2016)