Anna Walker’s Church paid her rent in Mesa because she can no longer afford it. When the 33-year-old first moved into her apartment complex, a converted motel built decades earlier, about four years ago, she was able to swing the monthly cost of $ 500. Back then, she could only afford the pad near Gilbert Road and Main Street. “We were on the verge of homelessness and I was recovering from the surgery so I pretty much packed it,” said Walker. But now her rent has been increased to $ 800 a month on the same tiny one-bedroom apartment she shares with her 6-year-old autistic son. The only items that will fit in the bedroom are a toddler bed and dresser while she sleeps in the living room. Her window has been broken for almost a year after some neighborhood kids threw a stone from the nearby trailer park, but the complex has yet to fix it. Leaking pipes that have been patched with duct tape regularly flood their neighbors’ apartments on the ground floor. Similar Stories I Support Local Community Journalism Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of the New Times clear. “These apartments aren’t worth $ 800, they don’t even have real ceilings, just office tiles that crumble if they get wet,” she said. “There are drug activities and I don’t let my son play outside.” Such rent increases are becoming more common, driving inflation in the Valley, which exceeds the national average. Walker relies on her son’s $ 530 monthly disability benefits to survive for the time being and is currently trying to get her own disability claim approved by the government. She worked for the local goodwill for about a decade, renting a mesa apartment for $ 800 that was bigger than what she has now. It had a playground. She was evicted after a medical emergency resulted in heart surgery and her hospital stay had amassed three months of unpaid rent in debt. Despite working full-time, she had barely scraped together enough money to afford this apartment. After that, she did a little bit of work in her church’s thrift store, but that opportunity disappeared during the coronavirus pandemic. Now that she has no work or handicap, the line between staying and possibly living on the streets is narrowing from week to week. “It will get to the point where it will be impossible for us to live here,” said Walker. Her goal is to save enough money on a home that she only has to pay property taxes and utilities. But their options are slim and shrinking. Right now her church is trying to help her save for a home. Aid organizations like Habitat for Humanity require a down payment of around a few grand plus a steady income, she said. “It’s just ridiculous how expensive things are now. I remember when I was a kid a studio was $ 300,” she said. Walker’s plight is all too well known in the city. The Phoenix metropolitan area is getting more and more expensive. Prices in the region rose 7.1 percent year over year, beating the national average of 6.2 percent, according to the US consumer price index for October. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics collects average prices of goods and services that are over 83,000 prices nationwide each month and uses them to make cost of living adjustments for federal programs such as social security. In Phoenix, the price increase was driven by housing and transportation costs. The price of gasoline itself has increased by 46.7 percent compared to October 2020. For businesses that use significant amounts of gasoline, such as landscapers, the price hike has hurt profits. “The economy is bad right now,” said Joshua Pineda, pointing to the price on his pump, which was $ 3.60 a gallon. The 33-year-old runs a landscaping business and regularly drives his pickup truck full of lawn care needs across the valley. Last year he paid about $ 100 a week for gasoline, now it’s over $ 150 a week. Housing costs in Phoenix rose 7.3 percent last year, compared to 4.5 percent nationwide. Average monthly rent rose from $ 1,473 last September to $ 1,787 this year, according to the Zillow Observed Rent Index. Five years ago, renting an apartment in Phoenix was about $ 1,100 a month. In Mesa, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $ 1,220 in October, up 24.5 percent over the past year, according to Zumper, a home-hunting website. “Housing, in particular, is very priceless right now and we are not going to see things (prices) collapse,” said local economist Jim Rounds, president of Rounds Consulting Group, Inc. Instead, there is likely to be a plateau soon. he said. A major challenge in Arizona is not just inflation, but also the low wages that make it difficult for those already in arrears to keep up, he said. Individuals like Anna Walker. Walker’s dream is to study business administration and one day open an animal shelter. But it’s hard to dream when the reality is so bleak, she said. “I have so many different ambitions, but with my financial situation it’s almost impossible,” she said. In the meantime, her lease expires in about six months and she’s afraid it’ll only get more expensive. “I’ll probably have to renew another lease,” she said.