I'm not a renter, but I am something of a landlord. We bought our home in 1995 as first-time homebuyers and yes, we were then and still are "low income," at least as described in your article. One of the main selling points was the mother-in-law unit, an 800 sq. ft. separate apartment that we thought we could rent out to help with our house payments.
Over the years, we have rented out our apartment, both to strangers and family. The first rent we charged was $350 a month, all utilities paid. Currently, my daughter and her husband rent from us and they pay $425 a month, all utilities paid and that to me is about the most I will ever charge. The place is small but nice, with laundry hookups, a large storage area/garage, and a nice redwood deck with lots of that not-so-famed Fortuna sun.
It makes me sad to know that I charge the same amount for such a small studio apartment as that which I used to pay for rent on a three bedroom house in Fields Landing back in 1994. Rents here in Humboldt county have gone through the roof and articles like "The Multi-Family Myth" and "Keeping Up with the Rezoneses" (June 30) simply reinforce my belief that greed is one of the chief driving forces behind those high prices. Of course, I realize that property owners also have mortgages to meet, but if you can't contain those costs without limiting your market share to only those in the middle income bracket, then where's the business sense?
Many of the people I've rented to (including my own mother) have been low income. You'd be surprised how many people have told me that I undercharge. Perhaps I do, I don't know. I do know, however, that my goal is not to get rich, it's simply to subsidize my own little slice of the American Dream and maybe provide a not-so-leaky roof over someone else's head in the bargain.
Merrily Gardiner, Fortuna