Housing Rental Prices Keep Going Up Across Pennsylvania And So Is The Homeless Rate

Cerees Moretti

For Rent SignAllfreeprintable

Two and a half years ago pre-pandemic, a studio apartment in Dauphin County Pennsylvania, averaged between $450-550 a month in the rural areas. House rentals where I live rented for $800 mo. In Harrisburg, a studio averaged approximately $600-650 a month. Last April, a studio in the Harrisburg area advertised for $1500 a month on apartments.com.

Pre-Pandemic, rooms for rent in "the hood" (Harrisburg) were advertised for $75-100wk. The latest Craigslist ads advertise for 200wk. The local motels are at almost full capacity, as people would rather cut a deal with the motels for the same $200wk and have a non-shared private bathroom with a mini kitchen.

Some landlords are asking that you make three times the rent. Three times? In Pennsylvania that is virtually impossible for the average unskilled labor worker.

The Eagles Crest Apartments rents 1 and 2 bedroom apartments for $1,205 - $2,682. The Village of Laurel Ridge and The Encore rents 1-3 bedroom apartments for $1,385 - $3,627. The Executive House in downtown Harrisburg rents studios & 1 bedroom apartments for $1,170 - $1,725, per apartments.com listings.

According to realtor.com private apartments in Harrisburg, 3 bdrm apartments average between $2405-2875 a month, and 2 bdrm apartments average $2200-2400 a month. Studios average $975-1200 a month. A house for rent in Millersburg, Pa advertises for $1800 a month. This house pre-Pandemic was rented for $900 a month. I live in this area.

On the website rentals.com, I noticed they advertised rental prices for apartment complexes but rental prices for houses were not listed. "Call for price" was placed on every home for rent advert.

My son came to me last October 2021, he was living at Briarcrest and he had broken up with his girlfriend, and he was in fear of being evicted as he didn't qualify financially to remain living there under the terms of their lease without her income. He has 2 small children in his custody for half the week. The ex-girlfriend didn't notify the leasing office. I paid half his rent ($600mo) until February 2022. My daughter, (his sister) paid the balance of his rent through May 2022.

We decided to buy him a house when we saw the outrageous rent increases. He makes $18hr. The home prices went insanely high during the Pandemic. Where I live, in Halifax, I purchased 2 acres in 2014 for 143k. My house jumped to 220k during the pandemic. My father lives 8 miles away in Millersburg, he built his house on .33 acre for 170k back in 2004, I gifted him the lot in 2003 for 24k. The pandemic pushed his house value to 590k!! (By the way, the wooded lot behind my father's house, .30 acre, unimproved land, is advertised for 70k!)

My daughter lives in Linglestown, she and her fiance purchased a home during the pandemic for 280k. They didn't even negotiate. They bought at the asking price. I had noticed the realtor played a familiar game with their sale. The realtor told them she had others interested, aka "bidding war". *There were no other interests in the home. She coerced them into putting in for the asking price. How convenient the seller accepted their offer. (Not my first rodeo. My father made his money on real estate. He taught me everything I know, I'm a retired 41 yr Paralegal, and I consider myself well versed in real estate & the games they play; like an auto salesman)

My son couldn't qualify for a mortgage on his own with the average prices for homes over 200k. I advised him to buy a doublewide. They too increased in price. Pre-Pandemic a 3 bdrm ranch was 60k. He paid 112k. The price doubled. I gave him 12k for the down payment. We found a lot outside of Middletown off Rte 230 that charges $450 a month in lot rent and isn't in a flood zone. His mortgage is approx $800, and the homeowners' insurance cost $550 a year. He should be ready to move in approximately 2 wks. When I'm ready to leave my mini-farm in a few years, I'll buy property near him and we can move the home to my new property. **Even trailer parks increased their lot rents. Some were as high as $650 a month.

I talk to people, as I am the state's advocate (Senator Mastriano's office refers people to our Org) and many are in fear of being homeless as their apartment leases come up for renewal, they've been given notice of a near-doubled increase. What are people to do? Where will they live? Some already I have heard via social media postings, have bought tagalong trailers and positioned them in camping lots. One 74yo elderly disabled woman was wrongfully evicted from her home of 30+ yrs and had 6 days to vacate the premises. She was rendered homeless. Our org did some serious phone campaigning and obtained her immediate public housing. State Rep Sue Helm's office called Keystone Advocates shortly after asking our Org for assistance for their senior constituents who were living in their car in a local parking lot. One man & his wife, waited 5 months to receive his unemployment as he was fired from a hospital (vaccine mandate), he lost his apartment via eviction, was forced to live in his car, and had to put his children into foster care as he couldn't house them in his car.

The rental leasing increases are in my opinion, deemed gouging. I understand that the pandemic caused financial harm to these landlords. The pandemic moratorium on evictions during the pandemic, many couldn't pay their rents during the lockdown. This put a financial burden on landlords. Landlords still had to pay their taxes and insurance. They received no "assistance". One news outlet printed that landlords filed pleadings with courts for evictions, as their tenants weren't paying rent, but buying cars, ATVs, big-screen Tv's, and other items, however, their cases were dismissed.

As a result, post lockdown, I recall some landlords were requiring as much as 4-5 months of rent in advance for new tenants!

All 67 counties in Pa had rental relief programs booth during the pandemic and post-pandemic, however, the thousands of applications received were overwhelming and took months to process. Dauphin County wanted the judges to delay eviction hearings for tenants who were waiting for rental assistance, but the state's SCOTUS denied the request with no explanation. Look how much money Dauphin County received, but many people in Dauphin County didn't apply for it, per Rep Sue Helm's office.

Dauphin County spent 28.66%. Amount spent $ 4,721,851.27. Total Allocation, $ 18,303,809.70

Map 67 counties Rent ReliefSpotlight Pa

Many homeless people in Dauphin county had resorted to living in the local motels. The public assistance office had paid for their stay. Pennsylvania Department of. Human Services (DHS) Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) . This is another resource for assistance. Dauphin County Emergency Solutions Grant program is another. ESG . Pa211 is a statewide resource for rental assistance. Christian Churches United provides rental and shelter assistance. Just Harvest provides an emergency shelter allowance. This is a per county motel vouchers & other shelter/rental assistance

I am the 3rd in command administrative moderator on a popular and legendary alt-right aggregated news forum, godlikeproductions.com for 17yrs. Yes, I am THE "Phennommennonn". We had our own radio show, "TheRawFeedLive" for 6.5yrs, and interviewed some 600+ guests. During the Obama administration, we went through a serious recession. (Three federal extensions for unemployment) and we frequently had on our show, famed economist Bob Chapman (he's since deceased). Bob predicted this "depression" we're in. His exact words were in 2012, "In 10 years, America will become a 3rd world country, and the depression it will see will be devastating. You will see people living on the streets". It hasn't been officially declared a 'depression' yet, however, I am not the only one who sees this. WE are "HERE":

**Pre-Pandemic Harrisburg had less than 50 homeless people living in the woods by PennDOT. The article is here, and a YouTube video here . Post pandemic, Harrisburg's homeless population grew to a few other places, under the Mulberry St. bridge, a tent city downtown, a camp at the JCT of Cameron and Arsenal Rd and 10th street. There are approximately 15,000 homeless Pennsylvanians in 2022. They estimate 300 homeless on the streets in Harrisburg, whereas the number is assumed to be higher.

During this recession which began in 08, Pennsylvania began seeing an abundance of people making permanent homes in camping lots. I myself recall seeing along 76 west, camping lots with such mobile trailers. Bob Chapman had predicted the country will be in such despair financially that the people will become destitute.

Pennsylvania needs rental assistance and eviction diversion programs. This should be a priority. The governor recently announced new public housing complexes are to be built. Back in April 2022 several state lawmakers and activists gathered in the state capital to call for an inclusive, permanent fund to help renters in the commonwealth. The main takeaway is eviction mitigation & working to keep people in their homes. A permanent rental assistance fund is needed in the state for the large numbers of financially burdened families in Pennsylvania. The housing affordability problem across Pennsylvania must address the challenges that many tenants are seniors, many of whom live on fixed incomes (average benefit 700-1100 a month); people ages 65 and older make up nearly a quarter of renters.

Pennsylvania's population in 2022 is estimated to be 12.91 million and the 5th most populous US state. According to internet sources in 2021, 66,193 eviction cases were filed in PA. This number compares to 116,287 eviction cases filed in 2019, the last calendar year before the pandemic began. Most evictions stemmed from arrears. Once a judgment is ordered for possession, for the plaintiff (landlord) and against the defendant (tenant) said tenant will have difficulty obtaining another lease elsewhere.

Keystone Advocates has assisted with 87 evictions in Dauphin, Cumberland, Lebanon, and Lancaster counties since 2019, sans the eviction moratorium during the pandemic. A fraction of these evictions were negotiated, withdrawn, and settled. Sadly the majority of these evictions were self-inflicted, failure to pay, when they were fully able to meet their lease obligations. Keystone Advocates were able to "negotiate" the judgment from being placed on the tenant's credit report so they could obtain a new lease. (Via payment plan to the landlord for arrears, thus approved by the court).

The "Great Resignation" does contribute to the 'problem'. A lot of people, post-pandemic do not want to work, Being "paid" to stay at home, during the lockdown into September 2021, via guaranteed unemployment, statistically proved to be problematic. Many who were working remotely, did not want to return to the physical work place. If they're not working, they're not paying rent. Public assistance is burdened by the number of applications.

Pennsylvania's housing crisis extends into foreclosures. In general, once a bank forecloses, the bank in most cases puts the house on a list to be "sold" via a contracted real estate or an auction. Per news articles, the banks have been 'selling' the properties directly to Vanguard/Blackrock. Therefore, private buyers miss the opportunity to purchase a home at a discounted price. I used to buy foreclosures years ago, or compete at the county tax auction annually.

The housing market is slim. PA is among the most 'vulnerable' housing markets In the nation and Pennsylvania is among the states with the highest concentration of such communities. Interest rates on 30-year mortgages have climbed, (my son's new mortgage for a first-time home buyer is a whopping 7% and he has a 760 credit score) worsening affordability for prospective homebuyers. Home sales have declined every month in 2022, In recent months, the total number of new homes sold has started to decrease, it’s just an indication that the housing market may be responding to ever-changing macroeconomic forecasts. "Stagflation"?

Did you know that you can "BUY" a home while on public assistance? Indeed you can. The program is called NACA. The website is NACA. Here is the PDF and another PDF You can watcha YouTube on NACA's program.

Pennsylvania has recently focused on building housing units for veterans. The Veterans Outreach of Pa, "VOPA" plans to build a village of 15 tiny homes surrounding a community center for homeless Veterans. It's specially designed to meet the specific needs of homeless Veterans. In Harrisburg, there is a planned 5-acre, 15 Tiny House community along the Susquehanna River. It's donated land is along the Capital Area Greenbelt near the PennDOT Driver and Vehicles Services Building on South Front Street. It's a $ 3.5 million project, projected to break ground this year. There are 857 homeless veterans in Pennsylvania. Homeless veterans in Dauphin County will soon have a place to call home. (If it's where I think it is, there is a homeless camp on that stretch of land just before the PennDOT parking lot)

"Tiny house" developments have also been in the news for housing alternatives. Lancaster has a Tiny House community. Here is a nice blog on Pa Tiny Houses. The cost was reasonable pre-pandemic. I saw prices ranging from 15-20k. Now I see them ranging from 30-60k.

Keystone Advocates will continue to assist those with a housing crisis (FOC/free of charge). *Rental evictions, foreclosures, homelessness et al. You may contact Keystone Advocates by texting 717-454-3691 or emailing keystoneadvocates@proton.me


Comments / 43

Published by

I blog about socio-political issues. I'm retired, but my advocacy carries on with 2 local grassroots organizations.

Harrisburg, PA

More from Cerees Moretti

Comments / 0