GLENDALE, AZ — Valley teacher Thomas Gestrich, who teaches social studies at Pan-American Charter School, is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
His rent went up more than $1,000 last November and has gone up even more since then.
To make matters worse, he was already supposed to be moved into his new-build, which he signed off on last May.
Sadly, construction delays have forced him to keep renting.
Housing experts tell ABC15 this is the new reality for many across Arizona.
“This is robbery. This is flat out robbery,” Gestrich told ABC15.
Gestrich tells us he feels frustrated, and forced to keep renting because his dream home that was supposed to be done by February 2022, is still missing walls.
“I got a letter from my apartment complex saying that rent is going to go from $950 a month to about $1,987 a month,” he said.
That was last November.
“I don’t think anyone can prepare in three, four months of a $1,000 rent increase,” Gestrich added.
He says things only got worse as time went by.
A couple weeks ago his rent went again, amounting to $2,452 per month.
Gestrich says this has forced him to dip into his savings just to get by.
“I’m just getting worried about that,” he added.
Gestrich even asked The Zone Apartments in Glendale for help, but he says the complex repeatedly denied his requests.
“They said that because of fair housing law, everybody has to get the same rate. It’s… It’s hard,” he told ABC15.
ABC15 tried to get a hold of the complex for months with no response.
Greg Barr with the Phoenix Business Journal says, unfortunately, Gestrich isn’t the only one.
“Our rents and our cost of homes are going up at a rate much higher than the rest of the country,” said Barr.
Adding there are many factors that contribute to the high prices.
“When we have nearly 200 people moving to the Phoenix area a day, like what happened in 2021… the demand has just outstripped the supply,” he said.
Michael Shatzer with Johnson Carlier Construction says his company is seeing this firsthand.
“There’s a need and a very high demand for affordable housing. Currently we have 300 units of multifamily affordable housing construction, with another 300 that are under construction. So, we want to be a part of the solution,” said Shatzer.
“We can’t build them fast enough. As a result, the prices go up,” added Barr.
The good news is construction is booming, and HomeSmart Realtor Martha Navarro says home values are expected to go up at least 20% this year.
“It’s making the urgency for them to get a house because we see they cannot afford renting with the higher prices increasing… but they can have a house with same pricing or less for what they pay for rental,” Navarro told ABC15.
Gestrich says that’s why he decided to stop renting and buy a home.
“This is my American dream,” he said.
While being out thousands of dollars wasn’t a part of his plan to get there, he’s hopeful his new home will be done soon.
In the meantime, here is Navarro’s advice for anyone who finds themselves in Gestrich’s position.
“Be patient, educated about the process, have savings, [and] budget,” said Navarro.
When ABC15 asked Gestrich how he copes with the delays, he said it’s best to just think positively and keep moving forward.
“It’s darkest before the dawn, so do the best you can with what you got,” Gestrich added.