“Have you considered the racket and the lights and the crowds and the traffic, and everything that’s going to happen to those of us who live here?” It is a familiar sight in America: the public meeting, the angry residents, the housing developer trying to explain himself over the boos. “Take the money you’ve got and get out of here,” one person shouts. A chant begins: “Oppose! Oppose! Oppose!”
Except this is not San Francisco or L.A. or Boston. It is Boise, Idaho.
And it is a preview of the next chapter in the housing crisis. Rising rents, displacement and, yes, NIMBYism are spreading from America’s biggest cities to those in its middle tier. Last year, according to an Apartment List survey, the fastest-rising rents in the country were in Orlando, Florida; Reno, Nevada; and Sacramento, California. Another survey, by RentCafe, found exactly one city with a population greater than 500,000 ― Las Vegas ― in the top 25.
Small cities are starting to face the same challenges as larger ones. Renting a two-bedroom apartment in Jacksonville, Florida, requires earning at least $18.63 per hour ― $10.53 more than the state minimum wage. In Tacoma, Washington (pop. 211,000), a property management company is evicting low-income residents so it can flip their building into luxury units. Boise, where downtown condos are going for $400,000, was the seventh most unequal city in America in 2016, a jump from 79th place just five years earlier.
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