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Kootenai County residents respond to the financial demands of rent

CDA2030, an Idaho non-profit, surveyed Kootenai County residents and found some people were spending 51% of their income on rent payments.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho —

CDA2030, an Idaho non-profit, surveyed residents in Kootenai County and found some people were spending over half their income on rent payments.

Executive Director JJ O'Dell called the housing issue a "complex issue."

"I wish we could wave a magic wand to solve it," O'Dell said. "It's difficult, but there are a lot of people working on it, trying to find solutions, so that's the good thing."

The survey reported a 71% increase in average rent prices for Kootenai County. In May 2017, renters paid an average of $989 a month. Now, renters are paying an average of $1,695 a month.

Residents at Lakeside Village, an equal opportunity housing complex in Coeur d’Alene, pay a slightly discounted rate.

Khristina Tevis and her three daughters have been Lakeside Village residents for three years. She said she’s lucky to have found available and affordable housing. 

“I pay $919 a month for a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath," Tevis said. "And that’s like a miracle here in Coeur d’Alene. If I was anywhere else, I would probably be paying double that, if not more.” 

The Coeur d’Alene association of realtors found the average rent in Kootenai County in December 2021 was over $1,400 a month. 

Tevis is paying less, but she said she’s seen her friends struggle to find places to live firsthand. 

“Some of them are just planning on honestly going couch surfing or living out of their cars for the summer,” Tevis said. 

Now, it’s not as easy as for Tevis's friends to get into affordable housing. 

“My understanding is that there’s a huge wait list," Tevis said. "I’ve actually recommended this place to a few of my friends and they just tell me the wait list is ridiculous.” 

A property manager in CDA2030’s Kootenai County survey said its low-income housing wait list is one to two years. 

Tevis said up to 40% of her income can go toward covering rent payments. 

She said paying less than average on rent helps when considering other costs as a single mom. 

“I don’t get any other assistance other than living in equal housing opportunity so that helps quite a bit," Tevis said. "A good chunk of it goes to groceries. I'm only able to get like half of my groceries now that things are just so expensive. Then there's gas and driving three girls around to three different schools. It cost me $80 to fill up my tank and I just drive an Impala. There’s no extra money for anything.” 

Tevis said the current rent and housing situation in Idaho prevents her from being able to move and provide more space for her and her daughters. 

“I’m basically figuring I’m going to be in this apartment for at least another year or two before we can move out and even think of buying a house and just trying to save anything is going to be ridiculous. So, we're just going to stay put as long as possible,” Tevis said.

According to Washington Trust Bank economist Steve Scranton, Idaho homeowners are experiencing similar financial demands when it comes to paying their mortgages. A February 2022 study found Idaho residents are paying an average of 57.2% of their earnings on mortgages today.   

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