Rent rising, few options leaving some Knoxville residents feeling stuck

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WATE) – A month ago, we highlighted the rising cost of rent in Knoxville. There is another issue that impacts people today, regardless of budget: very few options.

Just before noon on Friday, Zillow.com had 114 rental options in Tennessee’s third largest city, including 40 homes, 60 apartments and 14 townhouses. Trilia.com listed 135 options in total. Apartments.com showed 99 options available for a lease starting July 1.

After a year at home, Brittany Ellis decided she wanted to find another place to move in Knoxville. After searching for two months and applying in over 20 locations, she still feels stuck. “I almost feel like I’m in limbo,” she said.

She keeps a close watch on recent announcements, but still finds herself ignored by others, often from out of state, she later learns. Ellis understands why people in other states would find Knoxville desirable, given that she moved here over five years ago from Michigan.

Ellis said she and her boyfriend worked hard to build up credit and pay off medical debts. She thinks she should have no problem going through the application process. “I want all of us, the locals, the people who have been here, to be a priority instead of being pushed behind the back for people who don’t even live here yet,” she added.

Hancen Sale, director of government affairs and policy for the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors, explains that our area was not set to become a popular destination across the country, as he noted that it had been under construction for about a year or so. decade.

People in other states, he explained, are drawn to our relatively low cost of living and the lack of a state income tax. There is no solid figure on how many people have recently moved to the city, although data from the 2020 census is expected to be released later this year.

Sale said it was important to start the conversation now about whether to create more rental and owner-occupied housing. “… this is something that is put in place years in advance,” he added. He added that if the trend of demand exceeding supply continues, prices will continue to rise, essentially making the city unaffordable for those who have been in Knoxville for a long time. It could also stop new investments.

“There won’t be a ton of Amazon if we don’t have the capacity to house our workforce,” he said. Sale noted that it also creates the possibility that essential workers, first responders and educators may not be able to live in the city they serve.


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