Apartment renting has become Impossible Dream

Posted 12/27/23

We have a beautiful state, we really do. We enjoy the miles of ocean, beautiful parks, wonderful restaurants, and good people. You can get from one point in Rhode Island to another in one hour.

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Apartment renting has become Impossible Dream


We have a beautiful state, we really do. We enjoy the miles of ocean, beautiful parks, wonderful restaurants, and good people. You can get from one point in Rhode Island to another in one hour.

What we don’t have is affordable housing.  Searching for an apartment here is the impossible dream. The lack of housing in Rhode Island is beyond a crisis.  How can people survive? A recent survey has shown Rhode Island (Providence) has the highest rents in the country. The average rent for a two bedroom apartment in Little Rhody is $1,500 with no utilities.  And this is considered low.  What you get for that is usually a dump.  

What do tenants expect?  They expect a warm, comfortable and safe place to live that is up to housing codes.  They expect to be able to not worry that  pipes are going to burst, or heat go off in the middle of night, or have strangers banging on their door at all hours.  Is this too much to ask?

And can it be affordable?  Along with being a landlord, comes a responsibility to maintain your rentals.  If something needs to be fixed or unforeseen damage occurs, that is not the tenants fault, landlords need to make sure the property is livable.

When and why did apartment prices reach their peak?  After Covid hit Rhode Island, everything changed.  People lost jobs, didn’t or couldn’t work, businesses closed and living conditions changed.  People couldn’t afford to maintain their properties.  The cost of living went up and building material priced increased immensely.  Everything did. 

But some landlords became greedy.  They saw the lack of housing and gouged their tenants.  Due to the lack of housing, apartments became  increasingly unaffordable for the average working person who lives paycheck to paycheck.  What you get for $1,500 in Rhode Island is not much. One only needs to go online and check rentals, to see the prices charged.

What can be done to change this? New laws can be made to stop the landlords from increasing prices in rents.  New laws should be made to make sure the tenants are protected if damages occur that are not their

 fault.  We live in a society that used to care about each other in good and bad times. I see such a big change in our society now.  Many don’t want to get involved and are apathetic to what’s going on.  That’s too bad, because the future for our children depends on how we live our lives.

The examples that are set are embedded into their memories forever.

A single mom with a child on minimum wages really has it hard.  They tell you there are programs and assistance out there, but if you work, you don’t qualify.  Thus, many are forced to go on welfare, even if they would rather work.  Why can’t there be programs for working single mothers who need rent assistance? 

People are feeling the crunch.  Many cannot  afford food or medicine just to keep up with rent. It’s sad to say, but we lost our way.  We forgot what’s really important and it starts right in our own backyards.  Affordable housing is the new impossible dream in Rhode Island.  Until new laws and programs are made at the state house, it will continue. 

I remember watching a movie where a slum landlord was sentenced by a judge to live in one of his rentals and he couldn’t survive.  Maybe life needs to imitate that movie here in Rhode Island.  Then they would get it.

Joanne Giannini, who lives in Providence is a freelance writer and a former State Representative from Providence.


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