SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


High Rental Costs
By Zak Young


April 21, 2009

To the Editor,

I read the letter about the high cost of rentals in Ketchikan, and myself am in the mad dash search for an apt due to circumstances beyond my control, and am having the same issues. The writer hit the nail on the head! I usually am a person who tells it how I see this is what I see!!

While I understand that (and this is a very broad generalization of this statement) the cost of living in Alaska is higher than other areas, is it really so high that our rent is sometimes 70% higher than other areas? My belief is not just no, but HELL NO!

I have looked at cost of living calculators online, (''google" it, you'll see the same thing), and if the national average for cost is rated at 100 points, Ketchikan and Southeast Alaska as a whole scores somewhere between 150 and 170, showing a 50-70% increase in rent costs. Now if EVERY aspect of cost of living were at that same ratio, then maybe we wouldn't have such a problem. But the problem lies in the fact that rent and utilities are SO FAR THROUGH THE ROOF, that the average common working person is very simply SCREWED!

With a $30,000 per year salary, a single person, no kids, or deductions will clear just about $2000 a month, maybe a few dollars more. Rent and utilities, according to financial experts are supposed to take up 30-35% of your income. Rent and utilities in Ketchikan for an average one or two bedroom is between $800 on the very low end, up to $1400, and at least half of those do NOT include utilities. By the time you have paid for the roof over your head, and the heat, water, and such to make it liveable, you can be between 50% and 75% of your income.

A person can NOT, under any circumstances, survive in those conditions! Food, Gas, insurance, medical, clothing, and phone, the very BASICS of being a vehicle driving, working citizen in this town will eat up at least 30% of your income at $30,000 per year. Now, that is only if you own your vehicle outright. Sometimes the cost of a vehicle thats just good enough to get around here in Ketchikan, NOT a brand new $45,000 pickup, will be between $200 and $300 a month.

For those that are lost, it simply comes down to this. With $1000 rent, added utilities, food, insurance, car payment, gas, and basic living necessities you may have spent between $35,000 and $40,000 per year. If not that much, you have spent so much of your salary, that there is LITERALLY NOTHING left. That is NO way to live.

Now, I am in a housing crisis right now. I make LESS than $30,000 per year. Up until recently, I had a decent deal on rent. My rent, medical bills, car insurance, food and gas made up about 85% of my income. My truck is a piece of junk, but its paid for. My apartment was by no means a new structure. Drafty, at times leaky, and old, but in order to afford to live, thats a sacrifice I had to make.

Now the time has come to look for a new place to live, due to circumstances that I cannot control. I have been looking and calling for almost a month. There is NOTHING that I can afford to live on based on the price of rent. I have a dog, and thats my perogitave. WAY too many people in this town do no accept pets. Understandable in some ways, yes. But Its also discriminatory towards pet owners. This is America and its my choice to have a dog or not. Its also your choice as a landlord to allow pets or not, but come on....Whats so wrong with having a good pet whos NOT going to pee on the floor and tear things up be allowed to live in a home where they're loved, taken care of, and function as a part of the family?

As stated in the high rental costs letter to the editor on this same subject, its apparent that Housing Assistance is the only way to go to be able to afford housing on low income. Heres the problem. I applied for Housing assistance. Im working my butt off at my job, helping the economy of Ketchikan by working here, buying here, and living here. But in order for me to get housing assistance, I have to wait aproxamately 10 months to work up on the list, THEN I dont get preference points because Im NOT homeless, I DONT have kids, Im NOT going to school, and I have somewhere to live (for the time being. Im supposed to be out in the next few days.) To be considered Homeless, I have to have a letter from the local shelter stating that Ive lived at the shelter for 30 days or more. This system is skewed so badly that its backfiring on the exact people it was designed for! ME!! People like me who work hard, and are trying to make it, but just need a little help.

All in all, this whole situation is a bloody, ugly mess of political crud.

Landlords want way too much! Theyre trying to screw hard working residents of Ketchikan out of EVERY DIME they have. They feel they can get blood out of a turnip. A one bedroom apartment in a 50 year old structure that BARELY meets code, is NOT, I repeat N-O-T worth $1000 a month. The reason it seems like it is, is because people have softened up to higher rent, chalk it up to the "Oh, everything is more expensive in Alaska" mentality, and learn to deal with less and less each year!

The other concern is that the tourism industry will pay just about ANYTHING to get their employees in housing and dont care what it costs to get that housing. If a 4 bedroom house can house 8 people for the summer, the tour companies will pay whatever the landlord asks for the place, because they can just take it out of the employees check. No matter the cost!! A 4 bedroom house going for $3000 a month, comes out to a HUGE chunk of extra money in the greedy landlords pocket. That is NOT ok!!!

President Obama is bailing out Wall Street, Detroit Auto Makers and Bankers, Oh MY!! People that have raped and pillaged the American Dream for YEARS are getting MY Tax dollars to support their severly over the top lifestyles. So they fly to D.C. in their private jets, in their $5000 suits, and BEG for MY money. I DONT HAVE ANY! IM BROKE! I have to pay rent in Ketchikan! So what I want to know is this. Wheres my cut? Wheres MY Bailout? Wheres the help MY GOVERNMENT PROMISED ME!! WHERES MY MONEY?!?!? I don't want my money payed out to some multi million dollar salaried CEO because he lost a few bucks last year. He went into business knowing the risks. She took the job of a nationwide companies leader, understanding that she was responsible for the ongoings of that business. If I have to cut back on my expenses to survive, so should they!!!

Ketchikan is a beautiful location on this earth to set up camp, so to speak. Theres only one problem. I can't afford it. Not anymore....Its a shame, really. Such a beautiful area that I have had the privledge of making my home, and now, I have to give it all up, because my neighbors and fellow residents of Ketchikan are so damn greedy that I cant afford to pay their greed and lust filled rental prices!"

Zak Young
Ketchikan, AK

Received April 17, 2009 - Published April 21, 2009


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