Not the time to raise rents
Let’s write it off to bad timing. And do a little rethinking.
The Ridgefield Housing Authority has sent out rent increase notices to many of its more than 150 tenants, some seeking increases as high as $50 a month. The rent hikes, which have been in the works from before the pandemic, still need to go through a final approval. But they are scheduled to take effect July 1, and have alarmed many tenants.
There are a lot of reasons the rent hikes make good sense from the Housing Authority’s perspective — let’s face it, rent hikes never make good sense from the tenants’ perspective — but this still seems like something the hardworking and dedicated volunteers of the Housing Authority needs to reconsider.
This is just not a good time to be raising folks’ rents.
It may be true that some rent increases are considerably less than $50 — such as $14 or $15 a month at Ballard Green, for instance — and many tenants’ increases will be covered by state subsidies.
And the Housing Authority makes a good case that it needs not just to cover day-to-day operations but to to build up resources to handle unexpected problems — such as elevator renovations in the Congregate Housing building, in the wake of last fall’s elevator breakdown. The elevator projects was originally projected to cost about $100,000, and now looks like it may be two or three times that. Things like the elevator breakdown are real problems that responsible management seeks to address. Increasing rents to keep up with rising costs is part of that.
But there is a pandemic going on. And many people are out of work.
Many of the Housing Authority’s tenants are older people who no longer work, but a number of tenants do have jobs. Housing Authority properties such as The Meadows Townhomes are aimed at younger people.
The good faith and dedication of the Housing Authority’s volunteer members isn’t in question. The Housing Authority takes on a difficult and needed job in trying to help provide some diversity of housing opportunity in a town where market prices are, well, Fairfield County crazy.
But the timing of the currently proposed rent increases is just not appropriate.
Back to the drawing board.