GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) – Buying a home is quintessential to the American Dream and for many it’s seems like nothing more than a dream. For many in the Grand Valley, even trying to find a place to rent seems almost a dream.
Some, such as Cris Weinder and his wife said they were forced to leave the Grand Valley because rent prices grew too high. His family lives off of just one income. Over the course of a year and a half, the Weinders spent time living in an R.V. He spent time looking for single rooms for rent to house he and his wife and their dogs, but to nearly no avail. He said many landlords wouldn’t rent a room to couples. Let alone tenants with dogs.
“You can’t get a room to rent if you have dogs or a wife or a husband,” said Weinder. “You have to have two incomes it seems like to do anything and it’s a real pain in the butt.”
The Weinder’s had a friend who let them sublet a room in his apartment he was renting. Their agreement was for $600 a month and his friend said he cleared it with the landlord. But it turns out that wasn’t the case. One problem, Weinder said his friend didn’t pay the rent and that’s when the landlord came knocking.
“The landlord comes knocking on the door asking for rent, and she says ‘well who the f are you?’,” said Weinder. “No this is a dog free building no dogs allowed and I don’t know who you are.”
After about two months of searching, Weinder found a studio apartment in Grand Junction that allows dogs for around $1,000 per month.
“I just want to show people that you can claw at it as much as you want, but you’ll get somewhere,” said Weinder. “Just keep trucking, just keep going.”
Weinder’s story isn’t unique to him either. Other people in the Grand Valley said they had similar experiences looking for a place to rent.
“Being able to afford just even a room for rent has skyrocketed,” said Lacey Cates. “When I was here in 2007 I was able to afford a place. But now as rents going up, it’s kind of difficult.”
In Cates’ case, she said up until recently she and her husband were living on the street. She’s living off minimum wage, which already makes her budget extremely tight. Cates’ and her husband also tried renting a single room, but were denied because they are a couple. And she said with the fact that she and her husband do have a criminal record, it’s created even more challenges.
“I’ve been trying to get in with the housing authority, but because of my background it’s been a little bit difficult,” said Cates. “Because I do have a record right now, and a lot of them don’t take felons.”
According to Cates, she met with Mesa County’s Mental Health and Criminal Justice Collaboration, a program that helps get people off the streets and get treatment for mental health.
“They talked to us about the program we got all the paperwork done, we got involved with them,” said Cates. “They helped me get into a sober house.”
Even people who are making well above minimum wage said they’re still running into problems finding place to live. One family who recently moved from Arizona said it shouldn’t be so difficult.
“Even before we got here we were looking for places to live,” said Eliza Hunt. “We’re just like okay well I guess we’ll just have better luck when we’re there in person.”
The Hunt’s moved to Grand Junction in August 2023 on account of her husband’s new job. This family of four started looking for places to rent. However luck, really wasn’t on the Hunt’s side. Initially, a family member lent them a trailer they were using to live in at a short-term rental, just paying for the hookups. But Hunt said that wasn’t sustainable.
“We even tried the low income apartments and everything, and those were all waitlisted for about a year,” said Hunt. “We’re just like we have nowhere to go. We were real close to being on the street.”
The Hunt’s checked on different online market places and real estate websites. When they would make headway on one rental, it wouldn’t work out. Another one, the landlord eventually turned them down citing the price. The Hunt’s are a single income family. According to Hunt, the landlord denied them saying there were concerns about the Hunt’s not being able to afford the rent on a single income, despite the fact her husband’s monthly income is three times the asking price. Eventually though, the Hunt’s did find a rental home that works for them.
“Luckily this place had been sitting for a little bit, so they were able to just move us right in,” said Hunt.
Part two of this story will be published tomorrow.
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