The Buenos Aires Ombudsman or (Defensoría del Pueblo) reported yesterday that 35.87 percent of the 250 most recent queries that they have so far received have been about the struggle many porteños increasingly face everyday: paying their rent. And with the city poverty rate rising to 18.4 percent in the second quarter of 2018, this is hardly a surprise.
The main reasons for these figures are tightly woven together — the recent crash of the Argentine peso, the rise of the unemployment rate, and a steady increase in inflation. Considering the variables have accelerated in the second semester, it is likely that these trends will continue.
Rent itself increased by an average of 17 percent in the first semester of the year alone, mirroring inflation rates which have risen 15 percent in the same timeframe. However, this appears to only be the beginning, as the Argentine government projects inflation to increase to 42 percent by the end of the year. This would mark the highest interest rate since 1990.
This, combined with the steady increase in unemployment rate all point to a shrinking economy. And the people that this impacts most are those who don’t have fixed incomes or salaries, i.e. mostly those who are renting.
According to the Tenant Care Program coordinator, a significant percentage of tenants use over half of their monthly income to pay rent. This is illustrated by the dichotomy between the poverty reports released by the national and city statistic agencies. The national report stated that Buenos Aires’ poverty rate is 11.2 percent, while the city’s own report states that it is 18.4 percent. The reason for this difference is that the city poll took into account how much people were spending for rent every month, thus lowering their net income and their ability to rise above the poverty line.
Furthermore, nearly 20 percent of the last 250 people who came to the ombudsman in search of council were there because they were unable to meet the financial demands of their landlords and thus will not be able to renew their contracts and continue living in their current homes.