Santa Fe residents worried about increasing rent rates as options remain limited

New Mexico News

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – They say they’re getting forced out of Santa Fe. Some residents there say the cost of rent is rising so fast, they can’t afford to live in the city anymore. If you’re looking to rent in Santa Fe, you may need a hefty pocketbook. Resident Ashley Chavez says while owning a home is the ultimate goal, right now, she can only rent. As she looks to expand to a four-bedroom, she says it’s almost impossible.

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“I’ve been renting for over 10 years here and I’ve noticed that they have almost doubled in the last 18 months. They seem to be climbing every month I look,” said Chavez. “I usually rent houses just because I’m a single mom of three and I also take care of my elderly grandma. I was attempting to look for a four-bedroom this time because I usually rent three bedrooms but we’re a little bit cramped and yet I cannot find a four-bedroom for under $3,000 a month.”

According to the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, the median price of homes in Santa Fe County during their most recent housing report is more than $500,000. As for rentals, says fair market rent for a three-bedroom in Santa Fe is about $1,300 but most we saw for rent run between $2,000 to 4,000, one even going for as much as $7,000 per month.

Santa Fe-based realtor Lisa Bybee says Santa Fe is in a unique situation because even as rent increases at a similar pace in major cities, Santa Fe is home to many local residents who own real estate and rent that out. In the past, she says they’ve been “under-rented” but with the current lack of available properties, landlords may realize their rentals could be earning them more income.

“If I start looking, in the last couple of years, I could usually find one, apply for it and get it immediately,” said Chavez. “Now, it’s almost like a bloodbath. It’s like you’re literally fighting with 50 other people.”

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber says affordable housing is one of the biggest things residents are asking for. Right now, the city says there are about 5,000 residential units already under construction or in development.

“When we create more housing we create more choice and give people a place to put down roots,” said Webber. “We’re devoting resources and ability and being creative about making progress to help Santa Fe grow without losing our essential quality of life.”

Chavez says even with minimum wage at a higher level in the city, it’s not enough to cover the prices landlords are asking for. She hopes some will consider how difficult this is on those renting.

“I was looking at a house last week and he called me and posted it for $2,900 and two days later, upped it to $3,200 when he started getting calls,” said Chavez, who plans to keep looking until her current lease is up in October. “It does get pretty frustrating because you work full-time, sometimes two jobs and I’m attempting to start a business at this moment.”

The City of Santa Fe says they’re ramping up development projects for new apartment buildings and subdivisions to keep up with the demand for affordable housing. They hope as the options increase, costs will start to come down.

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