It seems that each year, rent prices rise as tenants get less for their money spent. Less square footage, fewer amenities, and less efficient utilities add up to a serious burden on American wallets, especially in the wake of the pandemic and lockdowns.
It’s no surprise that paying rent is a challenge for more people nowadays, and you may find yourself scrambling to make ends meet as the end of the month draws near.
You’re not alone, however, and there are many avenues forward that lead to relief and supplementary income, all to assist in your efforts to pay rent. What matters most is that you form a strategy and execute that plan - and we’re here to help.
In this article, let’s talk about the factors facing American renters, what you can do to get support, and how Steady can help fill in those income gaps with timely cash Boosts and tools to get your finances in order moving forward.
Having trouble paying rent can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be an ongoing condition if you know what to do. Let’s map out a plan and get things on track for good. What is leading to the rent crisis in modern-day America?
We highlight five challenges and look for insights on how to overcome them.
The average asking rent is nearing $2,000 per month across the United States, increasing ear significantly over the year. It’s not unheard of for American families to spend more than one-third of their income on rent, and budgets now hang in the balance as prices rise.
Rent is just the tip of the iceberg, with utilities like gas and electric on the rise as well. As Americans feel the squeeze at the gas pump and grocery store as well, it seems that the perfect storm is on the horizon.
Following the coronavirus pandemic's events beginning in 2020, it quickly became clear that economic change was inevitable. The virus shut down American small businesses, and millions of workers were laid off. Financial hardship is widespread in the current economy.
Although the economy has stabilized somewhat in recent months, much of the uncertainty still lingers, especially in parts of the country that were already on thin ice.
The minimum wage remains under $10 in many states, and labor markets favor big businesses over individual workers. It’s tougher to get a raise in an entry-level job, and more credentials are now required to attain higher-paying positions.
Part of our mission at Steady is to illuminate a path forward for people to earn more, whether through finding new work or partaking in the gig economy for much-needed extra cash.
Pandemic assistance programs and eviction moratoriums mostly ended back in 2021, while a few protections still remain in place.
We’ll touch on some of these programs in our next section, but the overarching trend is clear: rent is due for more Americans every day, and many of them don’t have the wherewithal to pay in full.
Life doesn’t slow down when bills are due. Growing families, single parents, and multigenerational homes are under pressure to pay rent despite the persistent needs of dependents.
The good news is that certain family circumstances can qualify families for additional assistance, but these are not always guaranteed.
It helps to know why rents are rising and the conditions surrounding American families, but what can actually help move the dial in terms of covering those payments?
Let’s look at a few strategies to get support and take care of rent ASAP.
Housing assistance programs have long been established in most urban centers throughout the States, and several new entities emerged amid the pandemic shutdowns of 2020 and beyond.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), developed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, helped thousands of families stay afloat in the past few years. More recently, it compiled a complete list of local programs that can point renters in the right direction for aid.
Start the application process online, make phone calls, or better yet, walk into the offices and put your best foot forward. These assistance resources are stretched thin in terms of resources, and you may need to be patient. Use every resource to your advantage, so you aren’t left behind.
Other financial assistance programs can also help with rent assistance. For instance, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers public housing to combat homelessness, as well as below market-rate rentals to assist homeowners and renters from low-income families in enduring housing instability. If you can reduce your food or gas bill, rely on public transport, and shave down expenditure in other areas, rent will be far easier to attain each month.
Not all landlords are sympathetic to the issues facing renters nowadays, but you should never feel like you’re being bullied into moving out against your will.
Do what you can to negotiate with rental companies or individual landlords and avoid unnecessary confrontation. Remember that it’s easier for everyone if you can stay put where you live, and it’s possible to reach a compromise with some effort.
Remember your rights: to contest an eviction notice, dispute citations, live in your unit without harassment, and access essential services. Understand the different rights granted to you by your local government and the federal government. Stay within the law, use available resources, and document communications throughout the process.
Non-government agencies such as churches and charities may be a good source of support as you put together rent money each month. Reach out to these organizations and see if they can help you in any way, even if not with direct financial assistance.
Regardless of your religious affiliation, these organizations can be a lifesaver.
Help may come in the form of assistance moving, rapid rehousing, or getting your finances in order for the future. A helping hand is more than just money, but also support and guidance.
Organization is everything regarding finances and meeting the rising demands of rent. Aim to gain transparency in your personal finances and get a clear vision of the income that comes and goes each month.
Steady's income tracker is a powerful, immediate way to reduce money stress, since it removes much of the mystery and hassle around personal financial organization, across all your sources. We've also created the Steady Income Passport, an unmatched tool to streamline the process of gathering your income information into one place that you can easily submit to verify your income or just to keep your income organized, no matter how you earn it.
With support from federal programs, state funding, charitable organizations, and community resources, you have more assistance than you may think when it comes to paying rent.
But at the same time, you must take matters into your own hands and work to solidify your finances with more earnings and better habits.
Here are the proactive measures you can take to ensure rent is always paid in full and on time.
Whether you work full-time, part-time, as part of the gig economy, or a mix of them all, there is always a route to increasing your household income. This may require pure volume (hours worked) at first, but a focus on skills and reputation will earn you more in time.
Now is the perfect opportunity to explore gigs like driving, delivery, selling, or a more substantial skills-based side hustle. Discover which jobs are best suited for quick income and which have long-term payoffs, then balance your efforts accordingly.
A bit of incentive goes a long way when organizing your finances and getting rent payments in order. With Steady’s unique Income Boosters, you can sign up for products and services based on your needs and desired path toward better financial freedom. Once completed, you'll get an extra boost of cash from Steady to reward you for making smarter financial decisions.
From new, low-to-no-fee mobile banking to gig opportunities and investing portfolios, there’s something for everyone in the Steady Booster repertoire, so start exploring and earn those boosters ASAP.
Think it might be time to go back to school for more training? What about a move to a part of the country with lower rent and more manageable taxes?
These things are possible, but they’re not going to happen without clear intention and effort on your part. Once you have a short-term plan in place to meet rent needs for the coming months, zoom out and think about your journey from a big-picture perspective.
This is how you make big leaps in life without taking unnecessary risks and ensuring that all your needs are covered along the way. Remember, Steady is here to help you stay organized, access better earning opportunities, and keep your eyes on the prize.
It can be scary to worry about rent, especially with family members counting on you. But stress isn’t the answer - action is!
This guide gives you a complete plan and the right mindset to adapt when paying rent now and setting up a plan for the future.
Average Rent By State | World Population Review
Emergency Rental Assistance Program | Treasury