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‘It’s a nightmare’: Renters experiencing a crisis with little hope for relief

Exorbitant fees. Outrageous deposits. Nonrefundable charges just to be on a waiting list. Welcome to the Palm Springs rental market, where even the would-be mayor of the city is struggling to find suitable accommodations.

For the past two months, The Post has been exploring a housing crisis that doesn’t make as many headlines as the $1 million average home sale – for thousands of city residents, and tens of thousands across the Coachella Valley, the rent is not only too damn high, it’s also too hard to find and often comes with conditions unheard of until recently.
We listened to renters, housing experts, landlords, and politicians. We also studied the data. Nothing we heard, and nothing we found, should be a shock to anyone currently in the rental market:

  • Rents in most Coachella Valley cities have doubled in the past seven years.
  • The average monthly cost of a rental in Palm Springs has spiked 25% in just the past year has increased $529 a month since the pandemic began in March 2020
  • Meanwhile, the supply of available rentals has plummeted at least 80% in just the past 15 months

“Demand has doubled, and inventory has shrunk to a staggeringly low level,” said Hal Castle, an account manager at Best Property Management in Palm Springs. “If you’re under $2,000 a month you won’t get anything just about anywhere, and you’re definitely not going to get anything in Palm Springs.”

Can anything be done to alleviate the crisis? Some think so. Among those proposing creative solutions is Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner, herself a renter struggling to find a larger home. Among other ideas, Garner is hoping the city will choose to convert some lots it owns into future homesites for working class families.

One of the organizations Garner mentions working with is Lift To Rise, a nonprofit that helped 65,000 people stay housed in the community during the past two years. Its president and CEO, Heather Vaikona, credited Riverside County for breaking down barriers to getting renters assistance, but said the entire system that creates housing insecurity needs to change.

“The pandemic and housing crisis has laid bare for everyone that our economy is built on the backs of exploitation,” said Vaikona. “History is going to look back on us as a society of people that (rested) on the backs of low-income folks who are not earning enough on their labor to stay housed. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

The story is critical, but also too big to tell in an email. We invite you to click through to our website to read the complete report, to see the data, and to meet the people caught up in what one renter described as a panic-inducing experience.

FULL STORY: ‘It’s a nightmare’: Renters experiencing their own housing crisis with little hope for relief


📰 Briefly

A homeless navigation center is being planned on property in northern Palm Springs off McCarthy Road.

HOMELESS CENTER MEETING: The city announced Wednesday it will host a third community meeting regarding the planned homeless navigation center along McCarthy Road. This time it’s a virtual meeting that starts at 5:30 p.m. on April 27. City and county officials, as well as representatives from Martha’s Village and Kitchen will give a presentation and then open up the floor for public comment. The city is inviting residents to take a survey on the center here. Two prior meetings were held in person at the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center. The first found city leaders on the defensive, as community members asked why they were not approached before plans for the project moved forward. A second meeting saw the city open the meeting up for questions and answers first.

VETERINARY CRISIS FUNDRAISER: The nonprofit Amy’s Purpose is hosting the “Pet Love and Rock & Roll” benefit concert to raise funds for veterinary assistant certification scholarships in Palm Springs in September, it was announced this week. Organizers say there is urgent need for the money because of the local crisis in veterinary care with many clinics running short on staff. The event takes place on Sept. 17 at the Palm Springs Art Museum. John Garcia and his Band of Gold will headline the concert and Garcia will join Bruce Fessier for a brief question and answer session before the set. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Annenberg Theater box office at 101 North Museum Dr.



🐾 Pet of the week

Willow and Wrigley are ready for you at Animal Samaritans.

MEET WILLOW AND WRIGLEY: Each week, The Post partners with Animal Samaritans to feature one of the many animal companions ready for a new home at the shelter. This week we invite you to meet Willow and Wrigley, 11-week-old puppies who are “simply irresistible.” If anyone is interested in them, they can visit the no-kill shelter, located at 72307 Ramon Rd. in Thousand Palms, for a meet-and-greet and fill out an adoption application. Shelter hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. and then 1 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.


📅 Today’s events

  • The Mizell Center offers a full slate of events, classes, meet-ups and more all this week starting at 8 a.m.
     
  • The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters have multiple events day. They’re starting off with a rock painting class at 10 a.m.

  • Cover to Cover Book Club hosts a meeting from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 
  • Dogs (and their owners) are invited to the Barkaritaville fundraiser at the Margaritaville side lawn starting at 5 p.m. Donations will benefit Animal Samaritans.
     
  • VillageFest is happening Downtown, starting at 6 p.m. Also, there’s free admission at the Palm Springs Art Museum.
For more events, check the complete community calendar. Want your event listed? Click here.

📌 What to watch for

  • The 23rd Waring International Piano Competition continues through April 18 in Palm Desert.
     
  • A free Easter egg hunt and pancake breakfast is planned for Saturday at Ruth Hardy Park, starting at 9 a.m. Later that day, the annual Desert Highland Gateway Estates Easter egg hunt takes place at Desert Highland Park, starting at 2 p.m.
     
  • Alohana, a celebration of Tiki culture, takes place at the Palm Springs Cultural Center on Sunday, starting at 10 a.m.
     
  • The Palm Canyon Theatre’s next production, Monty Python’s Sir Spamalot, runs April 22 through May 1.
     
  • The Books vs. Badges charity basketball game between Palm Springs High teachers and staff and Palm Springs Police Department officers is scheduled for April 26 at the high school gym.
     
  • The Palm Springs International Jazz Festival is scheduled for the weekend of May 14 and 15 at the historic Plaza Theatre in Downtown Palm Springs.

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