Home News ‘I wanted to stay here’ — Renters lament high cost of living in Montgomery County

‘I wanted to stay here’ — Renters lament high cost of living in Montgomery County

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Vito Anastasia in Bethesda is considering moving out of Montgomery County because she can no longer afford to live in Montgomery County.

Provided by Vito Anastasia

Vito Anastasia skipped the meal, so she can afford to buy food for her dog Harley and her cat Pi.

As a trans-gender man, he may distribute testosterone medications if money is tight. He can no longer get a drink with his friends on a whim or go out and watch a movie without worry.

With soaring housing costs, life in Montgomery County is a reality for Anastasia, and he is uncertain if he can tolerate it longer. Despite his best efforts, his time in the county may be nearing the end.

He said it was painful to think of leaving the county, the circle of friends he found in the family, and the simple joy that the community gave him. He loves to get together with people at Pike & Rose in North Bethesda and walk along the wooded trails of Cabin John Regional Park in Harley, a mix of Chihuahuas and labs.

“I wanted to be here. I wanted this to be my home,” he said.

Anastasia signed a rental contract for an Aspenhill apartment about seven years ago and moved from a rural town in New York. In rural New York towns, it was always necessary to suppress some of the strange identities and monitor the signs of danger around them.

In Montgomery County, he said he was able to relax a bit. He finally felt comfortable holding hands with his partner while walking down the street and being himself in public.

“I don’t want to say that it saved my life,” Anastasia said of the county. “But it definitely made it possible for me to live the life I wanted and needed.”

Home advocates say they’ve heard a lot about people like Anastasia, who love Montgomery County but are being kicked out because of the high cost of housing, or those who can’t afford to move here in the first place. Local realtor Liz Brent said the single-family home market has been very competitive these days, and buyers have to make offers without contingency and expect the best.

“I’m buying a house [in Montgomery County] People who have a lot of money and are willing to take a lot of risk, “Brent said.

According to data from the Montgomery County Planning Bureau, the problem only gets worse over time as the county’s neighborhood becomes more and more exclusive.

In 1996, a typical Chevy Chase home was affordable for a household that earned $ 139,000 a year. To live in one of these homes, you need to earn at least $ 232,000 a year, according to an inflation-adjusted analysis of the planning department.

According to the same analysis, typical homes in Takoma Park are only affordable for families who earn more than $ 111,000 a year, but in 1996 they were available to households who earned about half of them.

Affordable housing shortages, according to county officials Reached crisis levelAlso, as candidates discussed long-term growth plans and clashed over neighborhood conservation and redevelopment, they emerged at the forefront of competition between county executives and county councils. The council has taken steps to address this issue and last week approved the 2023 budget, which includes approximately $ 200 million spent addressing affordable housing issues.

[Montgomery County officials tout county’s historic investment in affordable housing funding]

Dan Reed, Regional Policy Director at Greater Greater Washington and a resident of Silver Spring, said he was tired of seeing his friends looking for and leaving a simpler home within their budget.

“Every time it happens, it’s a loss. Not only personally, but also for our county,” said Reed, who grew up in Montgomery County. “What business can these people start? How can these people contribute to our community?”

Anastasia, a data analyst for DC-based organizations, says he “Decent” wages.. It’s not enough for a tech startup to make anyone, but it seems he shouldn’t be struggling just because he’s floating.

And it offends him that he has been kicked out of the county of his choice because of the problems he has long seen local leaders come.

“Affordable housing was one of the biggest problems we’ve been screaming for in the years before the pandemic began,” he said. “I feel that the problem has been ignored.”

Plenty of ramen

From White Oak, Tony Duranie was kicked out of the county by the same problems that Anastasia faces.

After earning a master’s degree, he was able to stay in the county for several years by subleasing a room from a couple in Gaithersburg and moving with them later when he bought a house in Germantown. ..

If he had to rent a place himself, he probably wouldn’t have been able to stay without real hardship.

“Similarly, I would have eaten a lot of ramen from hand to mouth,” he said.

When he and his current wife decided to move together, they couldn’t find anything within their price range in the county, even their total income. They decided to rent a greenbelt place instead.

The couple scrutinized the Montgomery County housing market again when they were ready to buy a home, but couldn’t find anything that fit their budget, from Wheaton to Burtonsville. Instead, they bought a home in Columbia, Howard County — he wants it to help them stay in the DC area.

“We want to be able to stay in this area, and we stepped into the door early, so maybe we can,” he said. “But I don’t want to be younger than us.”

Duraney and his friend Reed say young residents and especially colored races are blamed for expensive housing in the county.

About two-thirds of Latin tenants in the county and 60% of black tenants are rented, which means that homes consume more than 30% of their income. County legislative oversight office.. This is comparable to 40% of white renters.

Recent reports produced by consultants HR & A and LSA for county leaders also found that home ownership within the jurisdiction is declining. Drop off With a young buyer.

Many of Montgomery County’s friends and acquaintances are packed into a more affordable community in Prince George County or Frederick County, according to Reed. And he is worried that without major course modifications, future Montgomery counties will be more isolated, less likely to have opportunities, and will not look like where he grew up.

According to Reed, the county is changing in some way, and the question is whether to adapt by updating neighborhoods or setting prices for residents.

“You can create a county that looks physically the same, or you can create a county where the people who live here can stay here,” he said. “You can’t have both.”

Difficult choice

Anastasia did not grow up in Montgomery County, but he accepted it as his home and put himself into efforts to strengthen it. He and some friends set up the group Queer MoCo to unite the LGBTQ community in the area and began advocating for the county’s Democratic Party.

He was also involved in a group that encouraged the county to do something about the worsening affordable housing crisis.

When Anastasia and his partner first moved to the county, they were financially comfortable to live in an Aspenhill apartment. It cost about $ 1,500 a month.

He wasn’t worried about paying utility bills or going to a grocery store, and was spending some money even after paying for his necessities. However, his budget is steadily tightening as his rent rises over the years and he moves to a Bethesda apartment.

He considered picking up a side gig to give himself some room for breathing. However, when the landlord of his Bethesda apartment decided to raise his rent from $ 1,795 per month to $ 2,100, his hopes of stay almost disappeared.

His spirit sank further when he began to look around the local housing market.

Recently, he came across a 265-square-foot studio apartment that costs more than the two-bedroom location he rented in Aspen Hill.

At this time, it’s not clear if he can land a home within the scope of his work. And he faces the possibility that he may need to return to a small town in New York and live with his family for several months. That is, he will not be able to receive treatment to affirm his gender.

“The choice is to live in a place where I can be myself, and where I can afford to live,” he said.

For now, checking out his 3-4 housing apps has become a discouraging daily ritual.

“You entered your search: no results were found,” he said.

Bethany Rodgers is a freelance writer who was previously responsible for the school and development of Bethesda Beat.

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