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Hunter Community Struggles with Increased Rent

Nick Adams, a full-time student and athlete, pays $900 to rent an apartment with two other roommates. They signed a 13-month lease last October, with two months off as a concession at the end of the lease. They don’t know if they’ll be able to afford their apartment when they renew their lease.

 “It’s getting nerve-wracking to see how high the prices are,” said Adams. “ I’m concerned to see what will happen at the end of September.” 

Adams’ last rent payment will be in July, and from then on, he will start to save up as much money as he can. He doesn’t know if his rental price will go up. They still haven’t been told, but he’s preparing just in case.

Many landlords lost a lot of money throughout the pandemic. In 2020-2021 rents dropped by 12%, according to streeteasy, and a large number of apartments were left empty. In 2022 as the city continues to bloom in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, leases have increased by 33%. The sharp rent increase has many Hunter students worried about what it could mean for their upcoming leases.

According to one landlord on Orchid Street, one incentive to keep apartments rented was to lower rents and give leasers concessions. He dropped the rental fee from $2,000 to $1,500 in 2021 and offered to pay the agent’s fee instead of the renters. In 2022, he raised the monthly fee to $2,100 and has not included paying the agent’s fee to make up for what he lost in the pandemic.

Thomas Knapp, a senior, lives with two roommates and rents out a three-bedroom apartment in Bushwick. Knapp pays $850 plus utilities, and they pay a combined $2550 in rent.

“My neighbors who have a three-bedroom recently got an email saying that their rent was going to be increased, when their lease is up in March of next year,” said Knapp. “They also pay $2550 now, which will increase to $2750-2950. They will each have to pay a hundred dollars more to make that up”.

Knapp says he’s in a very privileged position that he has a full-time job lined up as soon as he graduates. They still haven’t gotten word about any rent increase, but it’s scary.  “I’m a dishwasher for $30 an hour. That’s a blessing. I only work about 20 hours a week.” 

Knapp says that one of his roommates is transient and doesn’t know if he will be there in September when the lease expires.

“My student debt monthly payment will be about $550 a month, on top of rent, so my monthly budget will be about $3000,” said Knapp. “These are consistent anxieties.” 

Tamara Morales, a sophomore, lives with her mom. Morales can see that her mom is worried and stressed. Her mom suffers from knee problems and doesn’t have a well-paying job. She has two older siblings that help pay the rent. They pay over $3000 in rent in Bushwick.

“My siblings feel a lot of pressure,” says Morales. “There are times my mom doesn’t have the rent, so my siblings have to cover my mom’s portion. We rely on each other”. Morales’ family is waiting for her to graduate from Hunter, so they can all leave New York for another state. They are happy in the house they live in, but they can’t afford to buy their own home here.


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