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Pro: Officials could protect renters from extreme rate hikes

By Jessica Rodrigo
July 13, 2014 at 2:13 a.m.

Victoria resident Frances Sanchez, 66, sits in her rented apartment of nine years at Casa Del Rio Apartments. Sanchez has to move out by November because the complex has been sold to the University of Houston-Victoria.

Many residents in Victoria are experiencing rental hikes while looking for new places to live or renewing existing leases.

Some renters, including 90-year-old Helen Duckworth, think city government should be able to intervene if the prices are raised too high for tenants to afford.

"If it's really extreme, they should say something," she said from her apartment at The Arlington. "Anything over $100 would be out of the question."

Duckworth is one of many tenants at The Arlington and Casa Del Rio who will need to find a new place to live when the complexes are demolished to make room for a new academic building for the University of Houston-Victoria.

She hasn't started the search for a new place but is concerned that rates might be too high for her. She receives Social Security and will need to find a new unit where she doesn't have to worry about a large hike in her rate year after year.

"There should be some controls because the rates could be out of sight," Duckworth said.

Finding a place to rent that accommodates a fixed income is also something that Frances Sanchez, 66, anticipates will be difficult.

Sanchez lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Casa Del Rio and said she pays $700 a month. She's lived in the same apartment for nine years and said she can only afford to pay the same amount for a new unit.

She said renters who are older and can't afford to move into a nursing home should receive help from the city to ensure they do not have to pay rates outside of their reach.

"They should be there for the elderly," Sanchez said. "People my age and in the same situation are experiencing high prices they can't pay."

Jeremy Shapiro, 35, wrote a letter to the editor in response to a story published by the Victoria Advocate about apartment rates reportedly dropping in the area. The story was based on a national survey that many questioned.

"I am concerned about low-income or middle-income families priced out of living in Victoria," he said.

Though he said he doesn't fully support government being able to step in between consumers and business, he said, now is an exception.

"It has gotten to a point where some closer monitoring may be warranted," Shapiro said.

He said his Victoria apartment has raised his rent at least three to four times since he moved in two years after moving here for a job at the University of Houston-Victoria.

The same thing is happening in other cities, he said, but he hopes the city would be able to do something about it.

"There isn't any one answer to this problem. It's just time to address it and get everyone in the same room to talk about it," Shapiro said. "Maybe there are small things that we can do to lessen the burden."

Pro/Con: Should Victoria take steps to provide affordable housing?

Con: Private businesses should be protected from city oversight

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