Half of Idaho Falls Renters ‘Overcharged’, Report Says | Government
About half of Idaho Falls renters and a quarter of landlords have “expense fees,” according to a city-commissioned report on barriers to fair housing released Thursday night.
The report defines the term “heavy-cost” as when a household spends more than 30% of its monthly income on housing payments, including rent and mortgages.
Hispanics made up 44.1% of households with housing issues, including cost, overcrowding, inadequate kitchens and inadequate plumbing, according to the report. Overall, the report states that 28.1% of Idaho Falls households have housing issues.
Thirteen percent of Idaho’s population is Hispanic, according to the latest data from the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs. Bonneville County, home to the Idaho Falls, is 13% Hispanic and has nearly 16,000 Hispanic residents, according to non-partisan state agency data.
Findings from the housing report, prepared by Western Economic Services, will shape the city of Idaho Falls’ use of federal grants to tackle housing issues. The company is based in Portland, Oregon, and has reportedly prepared housing reviews in Oakland County, Michigan; Mesa, Arizona; and the Starkville Housing Authority in Mississippi. Megan Brace, the company’s senior project manager, told Idaho Falls City Council in a meeting Thursday that the company has been in operation for nearly 40 years.
About 45.7% of Idaho Falls renters are overcharged, while 22.3% of homeowners with mortgages are overcharged. Almost 23% of tenants spent more than half of their income on rent.
Racial and ethnic minorities have disproportionately high rates of housing problems. But, due to Idaho Falls’ small population of certain groups, including people of Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander descent, the survey did not include enough data to draw conclusions about their situation.
The report outlines goals the city is to achieve over five years using grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, including housing affordability, segregation (for which data was limited), equity, jobs and homelessness. The funds are part of the Community Development Block Grant, which averages about $ 430,000 per year, according to an agenda for a city council meeting.
The draft report, which the Post Register obtained from the City of Idaho Falls, is available online at bit.ly/IFHousingReport. The report used data from several federal databases, including census data as recently as 2019. Full 2020 census data has yet to be released.
A city of Idaho Falls survey released earlier this month said, “Owning a home in Idaho Falls is a dream that many residents see increasingly elusive.
Journalist Kyle Pfannenstiel can be reached at 208-542-6754. Follow him on Twitter: @pfannyyy. He is a member of the body of Report for America, a national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms.