Rental Prices Skyrocketing in Portland, Maine

Rental prices in Portland, Maine, have increased 17.4 percent in the last year.

Housing rental prices are increasing across the country, but in one New England city, the rent is skyrocketing.

According to real estate firm Zillow, rental prices in Portland, Maine have increased 17.4 percent in the last year, which is about four times the national average increase of 4 percent.

Second only to Jackson, Mississippi, Portland's increase among the highest in the nation.

"Portland is the place to be, and it's only becoming more the place to be," said President of the Southern Maine Landlords Association, Brit Vitalius.

He said the average cost for a one bedroom apartment in Portland is around $1,000 a month, and a two bedroom will cost about $1,200. There has been a recent surge in luxury condo construction and high-end apartments.

"There's been a demographic shift," said Vitalius. "Instead of running off into the suburbs, lawyers and doctors want to live in the city."

While the trend may be benefitting landlords, it's tough on tenants. Tom MacMillan said in five years, his rent has gone up from $840 a month to $1,350.

"It's crazy," said MacMillan. "It's just not affordable for working people to assume those costs anymore."

MacMillan is a member of the Portland Tenants Union, a group pushing for more affordable and safe housing options for low and median income renters. He said he would like to see the City of Portland take action immediately, and possibly pass rent control ordinances.

The Director of Portland Planning and Urban Development said the city is considering several policies to increase affordable housing options. Jeff Levine said the planning board is considering measures such as tax increment financing, inclusionary zoning, and city funding to incentivize developers.

"The market has been discovered and we want to make sure to continue to provide housing for the full range of incomes," said Levine.  

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