Chasing a unicorn
By John Meng Lately, I have been looking for a house to rent. However, finding a rental home in Jackson County is like chasing a mythical unicorn. Some people claim to have seen one but there’s no evidence that they currently exist. They are wisps of smoke that vanish almost as quickly as they appear.
I’ve consulted three different Realtors and none had anything to offer me.
Then, a little online research turned out to be enlightening as well as depressing. Zillow.com showed absolutely zero homes for rent in either Edna or Ganado. Checking Rentals.com was only slightly better. It listed one rental home in Edna and none in Ganado. That’s only one rental home in the entire county!
Last week, I wrote about the real estate boom in Jackson County and how land and housing prices have skyrocketed in Jackson County. While this might be good for the local economy, it puts a strain on people who live and work in the county. The article was largely about the buying and selling market, but it’s having a huge impact on the rental market as well.
Not everyone can afford to buy a home. Perhaps they are living on their paychecks week to week, or maybe a young family saving to buy a starter home. There are many reasons why a person or family is compelled to rent. But there appears to be no options to rent in Jackson County, so we are inadvertently pushing people out of the county. By necessity, they are having to look to Victoria or El Campo.
To be clear, I’m not advocating low-income housing, and I don’t like federally-subsidized Section 8 housing. I also oppose rent controls because I firmly believe in capitalism and the free market.
My point is simply that a real estate boom, such as we are in, negatively impacts many people that might prefer to live in Jackson County, but can’t.
According to a study by Enterprise Community Partners, high housing costs leave low-income families with little left over for other important expenses, leading to difficult budget trade-offs. However, affordable housing increases the amount that families can put toward other household needs, savings for the future and their ability to spend their money locally. And don’t want more people spending locally?
I wish I could offer a solution. But Jackson County is in a situation where housing demand is far outpacing supply, which is great for those who already own property here, but less than favorable for those that want or need to rent.
In the meantime, if any of our readers see a unicorn, please let me know.