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Missoula renters frustrated over price increases, low vacancy rates

Missoula Housing
Posted at 2:08 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 17:57:00-04

MISSOULA — It’s something Missoula residents haven't stopped talking about since before the pandemic -- housing.

We caught up with some struggling renters in Missoula, as costs keep increasing, and vacancy remains historically low.

“It’s kind of like an impending doom, kind of thing. All the bills, all the bills.” said Missoula resident Devon Howard whose rent just increased by $100 a month.“I have to have two jobs. Can’t not have two jobs.”

She works as a Medical Assistant and splits the bills with her fiance, “I don’t make poor money by any means, and neither does he.”

But still, times are tough.“That extra $100 that some people might’ve had, not including myself, right down the drain.”

But at least she’s gotten good at budgeting.

“I have the excel stuff on my computer, we sit down for probably a good couple of hours to make sure that, and I roundup, just to make sure. But we have to make sure, down to the penny, that we have our gas budgeted out, and our groceries. Even then sometimes it's tight.”

Devon’s weighing the options, which means she could default on her student loans, “I just graduated from my medical assistant program, but it’s like $25,000.”

Another option would be to move in with her fiance's parents, "be like 'hey, sorry, come to crash on your couch because I can’t make a living'.”

Those are two things she doesn’t want to do -- and Devon’s not alone.

Renters across Missoula are facing eviction.

“We just got a notice to leave from our landlord, without a reason, just kind of unexpected," said Daniel Carlino who is running for Missoula City Council in Ward 3.

“You have to live in the ward to run,” he said and if Carlino can't find a new place in his Ward, he might have to withdraw.

“Either run in another city council ward, and restart, or I might just have to postpone the campaign for a later time," Carlino told MTN News.

First, he needs to find a new place to go and he said there’s not much out there.

“Every time you call the property management company there’s already dozens of people that have applied to every place.”

We have reached out to multiple property management companies about rent increases and the low vacancy.

None agreed to an interview, but Missoula Property Management did confirm their vacancy rate has remained low throughout the pandemic.

They sent us this statement in an email, "we have 1-2 available to rent right now, but likely have apps pending. We have had less than 1% vacancy since October 2020."