There was a lot of good information in Chuck Hindman’s “Special to the Union-Bulletin” column on homelessness.” Unfortunately, the headline of the opinion is erroneous as is its main premises: “Rising rent a reason for uptick in local homelessness.”
Rising rent is one of the main reasons there are any apartments or homes to rent at all. For at least the past 20 years, the increasing rental amounts have barely been adequate to cover the increasing costs of operating rental property.
Those costs include the annual increases in city utility rates, the ever rising cost of good help. It might surprise your readers to know we are paying $40 an hour for people to clean apartments and $50 an hour to get them repainted. Never mind setting money aside to replace roofs, appliances, electrical equipment, fix plumbing and so forth.
Why would I know this? Because our company has been providing affordable housing in Walla Walla for more than 40 years. During the time we have been in business here, more apartments have been knocked down and thrown away than have been built. Why has that been the case? Because the rent those modestly priced units were able to bring in wasn’t adequate to cover the maintenance and repairs.
Those of us in the residential rental business obviously have no control over the prevailing wages paid in Walla Walla or anywhere else. It is pertinent that the general public realize that we are all in this financial squirrel cage together. We can only try to keep our heads above water.
It is not true that the vacancy rate in Walla Walla is 2 percent. I have no idea where Hindman got such a figure.