Community needs task force on rent prices

Editor, the Advocate:

I applaud Advocate reporter Jessica Rodrigo for challenging what appears to be an inaccurate report from ApartmentGuide.com. The company somehow came to the laughable conclusion Victoria has the largest one-year drop in rental prices in the country.

The ridiculousness of the Victoria rental housing market is well-stated by sources in the article and those who commented about it on the Advocate website and Facebook page. Hopefully, these comments will help spur city leaders into action on how to address Victoria's affordable housing shortage.

How can young families afford to live in Victoria? Sure, wages are generally higher for those who work in oil and gas or related industries. However, that's not everyone.

The vast majority of renters understand apartment prices depend on supply and demand. Obviously, Victoria apartments are in short supply while demand has risen in recent years. The construction of several new apartment complexes in town will increase the supply. The problem is the new complexes appear to be high-end apartments. This, in theory, could drive down rents at existing apartments. But let's be realistic. Raise your hand if you think rent will actually decrease. Has it ever?

The lack of affordable housing also appears to be problematic for Victoria businesses. Young professionals have left because they can't afford the rent. After our son is born, we will likely be forced into relocating to Edna or Port Lavaca or perhaps leaving the area entirely.

The situation also makes recruiting and hiring qualified people from outside the Crossroads more difficult.

As a former government reporter, I've seen several cases where forming committees and paying for studies was a waste of time. But in this case, I think it's necessary. The time has come to launch an affordable housing task force made up of city and business leaders. Then, maybe in a few years, ApartmentGuide.com can accurately put Victoria on its list of rental price drops.

Jeremy Shapiro, Victoria