BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Affordable housing is getting harder to find in big cities across the country and it’s no different in cities around the Birmingham-metro area. Couple this with an already prominent housing shortage and it can make the search for a home more difficult.
UAB students are not spared from the nationwide housing shortage or rising rent prices. For some, things get even more difficult as the school’s dorms filled up quicker than expected this year.
“Everywhere around campus is so expensive,” says Kevin Kirwan, a junior at UAB.
Kirwan lives in the Alight apartment complex in downtown Birmingham. He says it’s one of the only affordable options within walking distance of campus.
“It’s really difficult because I know people who live 10-15 minutes out and even still, they’re still paying a ton of money,” says Kirwan. “Not to mention, in, like, downtown Birmingham, it’s so expensive, it’s hard to find an apartment, hard to find roommates.”
Senior UAB student Mallory Atkins lives in Vestavia Hills and commutes to school in order to afford an apartment.
“I was seeing prices from anywhere from $1500 with roommates to $3000 upwards. I did look over in Highland Park at one point, a lot of them didn’t even have central AC,” says Atkins. “Whenever I branched out of Birmingham, I finally found a location.”
Brian Tunnell, CEO of Rent Monster, says rent prices have been in double-digit growth for the last two and a half years but it’s tapered off over the last few months.
“We’re at a 4% year-over-year rent growth right now in Birmingham. That’s pretty good,” says Tunnell. “That’s not where you’d like ideally to be but you can live with 4%.”
Birmingham City Councilman Hunter Williams says affordability downtown is something that’s been a problem for the last few years, but it’s a part of growing pains for the city.
“While we have a level of occupancy that gets larger and larger and almost maxes out, you always have more and more units coming online,” says Williams. “This supply and demand really actually keeps Birmingham much more affordable than any other southeastern city that we compete with.”
Tunnell says a local chapter of the Urban Land Institute will have a forming meeting tomorrow for a Housing Action Council where members will work to find solutions to housing problems in the city.