Protest held over rising cost of rent in Anchorage

Protest held over rising cost of rent in Anchorage
Published: Jun. 26, 2023 at 7:15 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A protest took place Sunday at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial to raise awareness of the rising cost of rent in Anchorage.

The protest, held by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, demanded equal housing for all. The group says Anchorage is dealing with a housing crisis as apartment and Airbnb rent continues to rise. On the other hand, a real estate broker says landlords are people like everyone else who have their own struggles themselves.

“As members of the public, tenants or campers who are living in homeless camps, we really need to start organizing and demanding that the housing shortage is addressed in a humane way and is addressed in a democratic way,” said Michael Patterson, a Party for Socialism and Liberation organizer.

Harrison Smith gave his personal experience with rent increases in his neighborhood.

“The notice I received is that this July 1 my rent is increasing by $100, and that applies to all the tenants in the park,” Smith said. “Come this January, rent will be increased another $100, so we’ll end up at $800, we’ll be by $200 the most expensive mobile park in Anchorage.”

Many at the protest say they’re fed up with the rising cost of rent and say it contributes to homelessness.

“What I do know is we currently have 3,000 homeless people in the city of Anchorage ... they need places to go too, they need places to stay,” Anchorage resident Roger Branson said.

Some landlords and Airbnb owners say raising rental costs is justified due to inflation, supply and demand, and the shortage of buildings in the Anchorage area.

“It’s very easy to paint somebody who owns a property as a big evil person who just wants to milk all the money out of it. But the truth is until you get to know them and you get to know these people, you realize, most landlords don’t make a ton of money,” said Kevin Cross, real estate broker and Anchorage Assembly member. “You know, they forget about the cost of maintenance and expense. Some repairs when our — when most of our housing is old.”

Cross emphasized that landlords are normal people, who are breaking even most of the time.

“They’re normal human beings just like everybody else and they suffer pain and struggles just like everybody else,” Cross said. “They have medical expenses, they see the cost of education, they pay the taxes, it’s not an adversarial role. It’s one that we need to come to together.”