My last apartment in San Antonio was not an apartment at all. It was a one-bedroom cottage. There was a kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom with two closets, vintage hardwood floors, arched doorways, a front porch where I decoratively placed flower pots, a small yard for my dear dog to play in and was in a gated community of other little cottages. It was located less than a mile from the college I attended, about a mile from downtown and about a quarter of a mile away from where the local art and music scene was exploding with young people and fresh ideas. The laundromat was down the street, directly next to a corner store, and there was a local grocery store a few blocks over.
And it was all mine.
My rent was $650 a month.
Coming to Anchorage was like suddenly becoming dirt poor.
Rent for efficiencies can be as much as $900 a month, and it seems like every young person I meet has at least one roommate.
I had to resort to Craigslist to find a roommate, and frankly, I lucked out in finding an awesome girl to move in with — two awesome girls, actually. So it’s just us three awesome girls … living in a two bedroom apartment … with one bathroom.
Have you ever been to the Craigslist “roommate wanted” section? It’s kind of creepy.
There are men who only want to rent to women. Men who are willing to forego charging rent for “favors.” Women who only rent to men who will do maintenance work in return for a negotiable price. That doesn’t even cover the tip of the iceberg of weirdness.
There are people who just want someone they can be friends with because they don’t have ANY. There are people who don’t want to be your friend at all because they are all about business. And there are foreboding warnings about which ads you should and shouldn’t answer.
It was not warmest welcome I wanted from Anchorage and was probably even more unwelcome because I know people are desperate enough to take those offers.
I’ve never, though, seen rent prices so high!
According to the 2012 Housing Market Analysis for Anchorage, there is a 1.9 percent vacancy rate for two-bedroom apartments and the average two bedroom is $1,200. That amounts to about 50 percent of take home income for a two-income family working for minimum wage.
That is ridiculous.
How can anyone hope to invest in a future or pull themselves out of a working class position when almost half of the money they make goes to pay just their rent?
It’s election year.
So while I hear young people piss and moan about how the vote in Alaska doesn’t count, how about doing something productive?
Not to take the star spangled mush out of the idea of democracy, but Alaska has so few electoral votes that the votes probably don’t have as big of an effect on national politics as residents might hope.
But that doesn’t mean we should be complacent, grab our ankles and take whatever politicians dole out to us.
We should demand that somebody, somewhere, at least address the issue of unaffordable housing in this city because living in a small apartment with two roommates where someone has to crash on the couch isn’t exactly the American Dream.
Shawna Sweeney contributed the statistics for this opinion piece.