Packed In: ‘Should we buy cheaper diapers?’: Families worry about rent hikes

SPOKANE, Wash.– Price hikes for renters in Spokane are forcing families to figure out how to keep up. That includes the Hamilton family.

Makelle Hamilton and her family live in Spokane. Her husband is deployed overseas and they are a single-income family.

They are struggling to keep up with rent after it went up $200.

Makelle says she is trying to find ways to work and help bring in more money, but it’s hard because she has a young son.

Makelle is trying to connect with other families who may need help with nannying or babysitting. She’s worked at a daycare and was a CNA. She also has experience working with kids with different developmental disabilities. If you’re looking for any child care needs, please email her with serious inquiries at:

While she hopes she can contribute to her family’s needs with her skills, she knows something has to change.

“We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to make bills every month,” she said.

Makelle is not alone. The ZoNE at the Northeast Community Center reported it is seeing more families struggle. It sent out an online survey and heard back from 169 Spokane families. Of those who answered, 78 percent said they were worried about housing. Twenty percent said they feel hopeless.

“When you have vacancy rates of under one percent and rents going up across the board everywhere, that is contributing to that hopeless feeling,” said the ZoNE’s associate director Jene Ray.

On average, families are reporting rent hikes of $200 to $300. Some say they’ve seen even greater jumps. Only 18 percent of those people have been able to find something else in their budget.

Data from the ZoNE shows that 91 percent of families have received a rent increase notice. It leaves people like Makelle wondering what they can do to cut costs.

“Should we buy cheaper diapers, do we need to cut our food costs down? And especially with gas prices going up, everything is going up right now, and our income isn’t going up,” Makelle said.

Then, there is the cost of moving.

From deposits to moving trucks and application fees, the cost of moving can really add up.

That’s why the ZoNe hopes the community can find ways to help with those one-time fees to help get families on their feet. It would help the people who call Spokane home keep a roof over their heads. You can find those resources from the ZoNE here.

That’s if families can find a place to move to in Spokane. The ZoNE reports that rental vacancy is at an all-time low: 0.5 percent.

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