I used to live in a run-down shack of a house on the corner of SE 50th and Lincoln built as a general store in the 1920s. The floors were all uneven, there were drafts everywhere, and the kitchen was home to a rat the size of a small dog. We had a rotating tap of roommates for the five years I lived there.
On my days off, I’d made a habit of walking a dozen blocks or so to a little consignment shop called Village Merchants about once a week. Most of the knick-knacks and tchotchke in my home came from here. Some weeks I’d find all sorts of cheap treasures. Others, I’d go home empty-handed. All that mattered was the unknown, the walk, the routine. Every week, for five years.
Eventually, I tired of the neighborhood. Seemingly everyone around earned double what I did and had popped out a kid or two to justify owning an SUV. The yoga studio across the street featured a cringe-worthy ‘orb’ mural my eyes were sore from having to look at every day. I decided to move out of this charming dump and into a 1-bedroom Buckman apartment with a killer view and six south-facing windows allowing for many rays of sunlight. It was a bit more expensive, despite being as old as my prior 1920s residence.
While equally aged in years, this building is maintained far better. If we know each other personally, you’ve heard me gush about how much I adore my home. Hardwood floors, claw-foot tub, matching trim throughout, and in a location that can’t be beat. And for several years, it was actually affordable. Those days, however, are long fucking gone.
In the last year, my rent has gone up by $125.00 a month, and I’m not alone. Talking with people in my building, they’ve experienced the same. Once they relished coming home. Now, doing so is a reminder of rapidly increasing financial burden. My neighbors are angry, and they are scared. “I can’t afford to stay,” a bar-tending friend who shares our address recently told me, “but I have no idea where I can go, everywhere else they’re jacking up the rent, too.”