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Rural Rent Too High for Pay in the Northwoods
RHINELANDER - "Right off the bat I noticed just to afford a 1, 2 bedroom apartment in Rhinelander, you couldn't do it on your own. That was a quick lesson on living in Rhinelander," said David Walters.

Walters grew up in Rhinelander, graduated from school here, has built his career here, and even has a young family. But making sure that Rhinelander stays home is getting harder.

Finding affordable housing -- especially housing rentals -- in Rhinelander can be rough.

"NATH and Frederick's Place have consistently seen over the 10 years of operation that finding affordable housing in the northwoods has been very difficult," said NATH Executive Director, Tammy Modic.

The Rhinelander City Council took up the topic Monday night as part of their proactive approach to the city's issues.

"As we develop the problems that sit before us, the next step is to develop a plan of action to solve these problems," said Mayor Frederickson during the council meeting.

"If it's a landlord issue, that needs to be addressed. If it's a property tax issue, it needs to be addressed. If I'm just whining, it needs to be addressed. But there's definitely an issue," Walters said.

Mayor Frederickson agrees: "So instead of saying it's not possible, it's not possible because we're not making any movement or action forward, we're gonna take care of it."

The City Council will vote on the investigation in two weeks -- but for residents like Walters? The question of affordable housing isn't new.

"I don't believe that was the case back in the 70s or the 80s. I believe that's a new thing," said Walters.

Residents of Frederick's Place struggle with more than just income.

"They may have the income but they don't have the security deposit or the first month's rent. Still financially involved but more than just straight up income," said Modic.

It's a landlord's market.

"So you're starting with that - with the fact there are not that many rental properties available in our area no matter what," said Modic.

Walters isn't worried about his own situation -- he's got a place and is looking to buy a home.

But he's been in the shoes of young people looking to make Rhinelander home before.

"I know when I went through it 10 years ago it was scary. But I feel for all those young people serving your food on Saturday night -- they're struggling to keep up with the rent," said Walters.

Story By: Cooper Henckel

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