TYLER, Texas (KETK) — For the past year, we’ve brought you several reports on soaring rent prices in East Texas. Now, a group of senior citizens at Towne Oaks Active Adult Community are bearing the brunt of it. 

Mix in a turbulent U.S. economy, looming inflation triggering soaring gas and grocery prices, along with a fixed income. Residents tell KETK there’s little to no way they can afford rising rent. 

A price increase ranging from five to $25 dollars a month has risen to a nearly $300 dollar increase in monthly payments for some; forcing residents like Dianne D’Anna to either downsize to a smaller apartment unit or search for a new place to call home. Lately, their options have been slim to none. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to get a smaller apartment in the same complex at a lower rate so I’ll be moving from one apartment to the other…I know one lady who’s moving. She’s been here for 18 years and she’s moving because of it,” D’Anna said. 

In October of 2021, residents got a letter from management indicating a change in ownership. 

“Dear Residents: 

Effective Tuesday, October 12, 2021, Towne Oaks Apartments changed ownership and is now under the management of Walker Holder Residential Inc., which is a Texas-based property management company with substantial experience managing apartment communities throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Please continue to contact the management office with any questions, comments, or needs you may have, in addition to making all rental payments payable to Towne Oaks Apartments delivered to the management office. If there is anything in your apartment home that is not working to your satisfaction, even if you have reported items to the prior owner, please let us know.

Thank you for your residency at Towne Oaks Apartments!” 

Since then, renters at Towne Oaks said they’ve noticed an increase in their monthly payments but tell me they have yet to receive official notice. We followed up with the new management company, Walker Holder Residential, and touched base with the company’s regional manager, Don Wilson. He explained the reason behind the hike, pointing to a turbulent U.S. economy and a price increase in just about everything.

The rent hike for seniors at Towne Oaks however all depends on when exactly they signed their lease. “If you renewed two years ago and have it renewed, you are gonna see a much higher increase than if you just moved in here less than a year ago. We have been consistently raising rent over the last year or so and it would really depend on when they renewed or not. Some people may see a 50 dollars increase, others may see a 250 to 300-dollar increase. It all just depends,” Wilson said.

D’Anna moved from New Jersey to Tyler four years ago looking to escape the “…high price of living on the East Coast.” The burden of high costs has now come full circle. “Everyone was very upset when we learned that we were going to be raised in our rent. I mean we didn’t expect that much. Mine got raised quite a bit. I got lucky when I moved here in September. I was paying 995 dollars a month. Now im paying $1,025 and that’s going up to $1,399,” D’Anna said.  

After inquiring with management, residents were told the rise in rent is to accommodate and match the current market value of the surrounding Tyler area; a value residents worry they’re unable to match.

“Most of us are on a fixed income. We’re trying our hardest to survive. We don’t have big stock or bonds. There’s a lot of us who are widows out here. We do have couples but the majority are widows and widowers.”

DIANNE D’ANNA

We reached out to local organizations to help map out any options. United Way of Smith County told KETK in East Texas, that statewide and local resources that normally would offer rent subsidies have exhausted their funding due to incredibly high demand these past few months. However, they can still help and direct people to resources, just call 211.

PATH in Tyler also has a rent and mortgage assistance program. The staff there said to call them to set up an appointment for any type of assistance and resources.