"Market rate rent" on the southside apparently $1,800 per month now
In another sign of the times, a house on Riverbend Road off of the Vinson Highway currently is available to renters for $1,800 per month.
The property is one of the first "old doctors houses" around the Central State Hospital campus to be renovated and put up for rent. The project is being called the "Riverbend Development," not to be confused with the apartment complex by the river bridge of the same name. A development company in 2022 purchased 54 different brick houses, which spans several streets and 157 total acres. The asking price was $1.8 million. A total of 40-something new rental houses ultimately are expected to be rented out.
Most of the houses were built in the 1950s and 1960s, when Central State administrators were in desperate need of medical doctors. The houses were built as a perk to recruit new doctors, hence the term "doctors houses." Many of those doctors ultimately came from Cuba following the Castro Revolution and the botched Bay of Pigs invasion.
The houses gradually were abandoned and neglected. Some were not salvageable. After the new owners put in extensive work and financial investment, however, some of the houses are now ready and beginning to come on the rental market.
At the time of the purchase, proponents of the project said that the new rental houses would rent for between "$1,100-$1,300" per month or "market rate." Apparently, the "market rate" for rental properties in Baldwin County has risen by more than 50 percent in less than two years, based on the $1,800 asking price for the rental at 1005 Riverbend Road.
The old adage and financial words of wisdom is to spend no more than 30 percent of your take-home pay on housing. In order not to go over 30 percent and live in the $1,800 rental house on Riverbend Road, a person or a family would have to bring home $6,000 per month.
Keep in mind, based on the data, Baldwin County is one of the poorer counties in one of the poorer states in the country. The Census Bureau most recently placed Baldwin County's median per capita income at around $26,000. An $1,800 per month rental house adds up to $21,600 per year.
Wanda Addeo is the executive director of Overview Inc. and is on the front lines of the runaway rent situation.
"I have been here for 13 years, and I've never seen it this bad. It's a pretty big issue right now, especially for lower income families," Addeo previously said., adding that her organization recently was awarded with an emergency federal grant to help with rental assistance.