Mother struggles to find affordable living as cost of rent increases across Metro Detroit

‘I’m trying not to be frustrated about it, but it’s kind of hard not to be’

DETROIT – As people try to make ends meet, the rising cost of rent is a constant struggle.

Right now, the average cost of rent across Metro Detroit is $1,176 will get you a little less than 800 square feet.

In Warren, you’re paying $950 a month. The cost of rent is higher in Southfield as it will cost you $1,200, and Westland is right in the middle at $1,000.

“I’m trying not to be frustrated about it, but it’s kind of hard not to be,” said renter Lanease Grey.

The clock is ticking for Grey. She has just weeks to find a new place to rent for her and her son as her landlord sold the home she was renting.

Finding something new and affordable to rent hasn’t been easy, to say the least.

“Just the stress of worrying if I’m going to find something or not in the time frame,” Grey said.

Grey is a housekeeping aide at an area hospital. She pays $800 monthly to rent a two-family flat on Detroit’s west side.

She’s lived in her home for nearly four years, but rental prices have increased significantly during that time.

Grey’s income has not.

“I could look at another two-family flat, you know, kind of maybe in the same area, maybe, probably in a worse area, and it’s gone up about $200,” Grey said. “Maybe $150 for the same amount of house, sometimes even less.”

“Rent has went up over 15% in the last two years,” said realtor Future Davis.

Davis is working with Grey to try and find her a place to rent that’s within her means. But it’s not as easy for all renters.

“It’s been rough,” Davis said. “It’s really disappointing when you have to tell someone you can’t help them find a place because maybe they don’t qualify. The people that you can help find a place, you can try to keep their spirits up because a lot of times they have to settle for something they can afford versus getting something that they actually want to pay for.”

The real estate for what you can afford to rent has narrowed. According to, the average rent in the City of Detroit has been slowly approaching $1,200 a month. Now it’s at around $1,176 a month for a 795-square-foot apartment.

Qualifying for a rental varies, but most landlords want you to prove you can afford the monthly rent several times over. Your rental history and employment history are also factors in your approval, along with your credit score. Typically a 640 or higher is needed.

“What I do not want is, you know, an eviction because that’ll make it even harder for me to find something else to rent or buy,” Grey said.

In many cases, buying a place to reside in might be the better option.

“There have been many cases where people have called looking to rent a home, and they become home buyers,” Davis said.

Part of Davis’s job as a realtor is educating renters in situations like Grey’s. The qualifications for renting are similar to buying a home, and there’s financial help out there.

“A lot of people don’t know that they actually qualify for a home,” Davis said. “They think you need all of this money for your closing costs, and you don’t. Michigan has the commissioner program where they’ll give you $7,500 to $10,000 towards your down payment and your closing costs.”

Sometimes, your mortgage can be lower than you’d pay in rent while building equity.

While she has less than two weeks to find a new home to rent or buy, Grey isn’t discouraged as she’s had the message for other renters finding themselves unexpectedly hit with inflation.

“Try your hardest not to stress,” Grey said. “Pray. Stay prayed up. You know? That’s pretty much all I got and believe. Stay positive.”

Grey’s long-term goal is to buy her dream home one day.

Other realtors that have spoken to Local 4 suggest getting a roommate to split the higher rental costs. Some have seen renters pick up side jobs as Grey does.

We are three days past the date Grey had to be out of her rental home. Unfortunately, she still hasn’t been able to find a place she can afford.

Her landlord hasn’t kicked her out just yet, but she is packed up and ready to move should a new home to rent become available.

Click here if you have other questions about renting versus buying.

About the Authors:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.