Local Renters Struggle Under the Weight of Rising Rent Prices

MODESTO -- The cost of rent continues to rise in the Central Valley and many renters are struggling to cope with the ever-changing prices.

Many Modesto renters say if the rent prices continue to climb like they have the past several years they may be forced to move out. One local property management firm says the end of the rise might be several years away.

"In one way I’m very angry about having to stay here, but on the other hand I’m blessed to have a roof over my head," said Tina Gilstrap, a renter of eight years.

Rising rent prices are forcing Gilstrap to look elsewhere, but everywhere she looks for a place for her and her son prices are high.

"We’ve been homeless and I don’t want to be homeless," she said. "So, we are scraping everything we have to stay here so we don’t end up out on the streets, to be in that category."

Many Modesto residents are forced to fight the same battle as Gilstrap. As some move out, others hold on, with one renter, who didn’t want to be identified, saying his social security check won’t be able to handle another rate increase at a place he has loved living at for 25 years.

"I hate to say this, but I had to let one of my bills go," he told FOX40. "I’ve been keeping my payments up pretty good. I had to let this one go to try to help me get along."

RENTCafe, an apartment search website, has the average rent in Modesto at just above $1,100, a $350 jump from four years ago. A major reason for the sharp rise is the lack of rentable properties.

"We are seeing desperation in the market for properties," said Duke Zagaris Leffler, Senior Vice President of Liberty Property Management. "People are renting properties we manage before they even see them. Sixty percent of our properties rent before they are even viewed."

Liberty Property Management says they believe these increases will continue for another few years, until building in California picks up or the price of rent reaches a hard cap.

As Bay Area transports continue to trickle further into the valley, the demand for housing increases, driving prices like Gilstrap’s from $600 when she moved in 8 years ago to over $1,000 starting this month.

"All I can do is pray to God that we are able to hang onto what we do have right now," Gilstrap said. "It’s a home. It’s not the worst and it’s not the best, but it’s a home."