rental market

Rising Rent Squeezing Some North Texas Families Closer to Homelessness

NBCUniversal, Inc.

If you have spent any time looking for an apartment or house to rent, you have noticed prices in North Texas are on the rise.

The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment has gone up 37% in Dallas over the past year, according to rent.com

Combine that with inflation and a short supply, and a North Texas nonprofit says more families are being priced out of rentals, pushing them closer to homelessness.

Jennifer Duncan stood Friday outside a home in the Highland Hills neighborhood in southern Dallas waiting for a property manager to show her a home.

“We’re house hunting,” Duncan said.

The mom of three lost her apartment two weeks ago in a fire. She has a fulltime job and is still building her credit.

She says trying to find a home that is affordable.

“I’ve been looking in Pleasant Grove, Grand Prairie, Duncanville and the average for a 3-bedroom is averaging out $1,700-$1,800 a month. And I think it’s ridiculous,” Duncan said.

It’s a refrain Ellen Magnis is familiar with.

The president and CEO of Family Gateway says the Dallas-based nonprofit has seen twice as many calls for help from families over the first six months of this year compared to 2021 and five times as many families having eviction proceedings initiated against them over the same time period.

“When there’s a shortage of available units and the units that are available are too expensive, then your homelessness spikes,” Magnis said.

Magnis spoke with NBC 5 Friday from inside a converted former hotel the city of Dallas bought two years ago that Family Gateway now operates.

It is one of three facilities, with approximately 100 rooms total, Family Gateway operates in Dallas for emergency housing for women and children facing homelessness.

“There is no affordable housing in this community where somebody making $15 an hour can sustain themselves in a rental unit with three children,” Magnis said.

“It’s impossible, the math doesn’t work.”

Duncan says she earns around $20 per hour for her fulltime job, and it is difficult to make ends meet for housing, food and utilities.

“I didn’t sign up for benefits because I couldn’t have that chunk coming out, I need my net to be in my pocket to take care of my kids.”

Duncan adds she started looking for another place to live months ago, well before her apartment near Fair Park burned down earlier in July.

For now, she is temporarily living with her sister and her urgency to find a rental at a market rate she can afford is only increasing.

“Right now, short term, I just want to get somewhere stable for the kids, for August 15, school is starting,” Duncan said.

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