Janet Belanger evicted

Janet Belanger pauses while speaking with a Union Leader reporter at her Douglas Street apartment in Manchester on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019.

MANCHESTER — Janet Belanger and her two sons won’t have a home on Wednesday.

Blame it on the tight rental market that keeps rents in acceleration status.

Blame it on developers happy to build high-end homes but slow to build apartment houses or starter homes.

No matter what’s to blame, Belanger will be locked out Wednesday of the one-bedroom, Douglas Street apartment that has been her home for 10 years.

“It’s a jungle out there,” Belanger, 61, said about her search for an apartment.

She’s not alone. A housing advocate said many people are facing rents they can’t afford while a tight rental market allows landlords to become very choosy. A poor credit score or a spotty rental history will mean they don’t get an apartment.

It’s even harder to rent once a person is homeless, said Cathy Kuhn, director of the New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness.

“I wish I had a magic answer. But we just don’t have the housing stock for people in these situations to be easily rehoused,” Kuhn said.

Belanger has lived at her $685-a-month apartment for 10 years. She said she moved there from a homeless shelter in Concord when her boys were in middle school.

She earns about $18 an hour working in medical billing for a major health care provider in the city. She has two sons in their early 20s. One works part-time at Walmart. Another hasn’t been able to find a job.

Earlier this year, the landlord sold the six-family building at 202-204 Douglas St., and the new owner is upgrading the apartments, said Matthew Ping, property manager for Ledgewood Commercial Properties, the company that manages the property.

“For that building, the rents were low,” Ping said. Now things have changed. “New owner, more mortgage, higher expenses,” he said.

The renovation, which should take about six weeks to two months, will create an apartment that should fetch a rent of about $1,100 a month, he said.

Belanger said she’s been depressed about moving. She procrastinated, so on Monday she and her sons were working all out to pack up her cluttered apartment.

“I don’t show it, but deep down I’m completely torn up,” said her son Dylan, who was packing the bedroom.

Janet Belanger evicted

Janet Belanger packs up her belongings at her Douglas Street apartment in Manchester on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. She and her two grown sons are getting evicted this week because the building is being renovated.

Belanger is wary of filling out applications for big companies such as Red Oak Properties. She has to pay triple the application fee because her children are young adults, she said. And her credit isn’t good, so she thinks the money would be wasted.

She didn’t look for two weeks because one apartment seemed promising; but the landlord hasn’t returned her calls.

She looked at one apartment on Sunday. When she mentioned her cat, the landlord crossed her off his list. She said she couldn’t afford more than $1,200.

Ping said Belanger could apply to his company. The company checks credit, criminal record, social media activity, income and rental history and then forwards an application to the actual owner-investors, who make the final decision. The company works with about 60 landlords.

Her eviction was for good cause, so that wouldn’t hurt her, he said. Ping said he can’t discuss Belanger’s individual situation. But in general, he said, income limitations are the biggest reason people don’t qualify. Ledgeview recommends that a tenant’s monthly rent not exceed 37 percent of household income.

“It’s tough absolutely. We try to help out the best we can,” he said.

He said an influx of people from Massachusetts is fueling rent increases.

“We’re seeing a lot coming up from Massachusetts. They get more (apartment) for their money here, and they’re keeping their jobs in Massachusetts,” he said.

Kuhn suggested that Belanger contact family or friends and try to move in temporarily, get on all possible waiting lists for housing assistance and contact city welfare.

Belanger said she could go to a hotel on Wednesday, but that will fritter away the money she has saved for a security deposit and first month’s rent. Some people suggest a rooming house, but she doesn’t want to share a bathroom with strangers. She said off-season rentals in Hampton are a possibility, but that means commuting back and forth to Manchester.

Others tell her to kick out her sons, she said.

“I can’t do that,” she said, “I see the homeless in Manchester. I don’t want my kids roaming the street asking for money.”

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