Rent costs continue to rise; MSU organizations give support

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Venn Diagram representing two organizations.

Ruby Schwalm

This Venn diagram represents the similarities between The Rent is Too Damn High coalition and the MSU Young Communist League. Infographic by Ruby Schwalm

The temperatures may be dropping, but the rent in Michigan is still high.

The Rent is Too Damn High (TRITDH) of Michigan is a Lansing-based coalition. This movement represents diversity, action, and the cost of rent. State-wide residents are involved with The Rent is Too Damn High and travel the distance to support the coalition’s goals. 

These demands include the removal of the rent control ban, $4 billion for social housing, $1 billion for homeless, or almost homeless people, and a Renter’s Bill of Rights. 

In a town like East Lansing, the cost of rent is a topic that many have an opinion about. It’s almost unavoidable to most residents, especially after a rally that moved through Lansing on Sept. 5. 

However, it’s a significant issue for students at Michigan State University. 

Eli Folts, a third-year social relations and policy student at Michigan State University is an activist, a Young Communist League general member, a Sunrise Hub member (environmental rights organization), and a member of the Rent is Too Damn High coalition. He attended the Sept. 5 rally and shared his point of view on rent.

“They’ll [management companies] upcharge the rent because they know that students need housing on campus, especially considering MSU made it so upperclassmen can’t live on campus,” Folts said.

Folts shares an apartment with two other people in East Lansing. Individually, they each pay $900 each month, totaling $2,700. 

Their situation isn’t rare. A presentation created by the Ingham County Health Department shows the significant increases of rent .

“Buying a home today is the least affordable that buying has been in the past 8 years…Renters in Michigan are 4.3 times more likely to experience housing problems than owners in Michigan” the presentation said.

This illustrates the fact current situation of renters in Michigan and conveys the message they’re fighting for.

Not only is Folts involved with The Rent is Too Damn High coalition, but he’s also involved with another activist group at MSU. This group, the Young Communist League (YCL), openly supports The Rent is Too Damn High movement.

The Young Communist League is an organization affiliated with the guidelines of the Communist and Marxist parties. It focuses on economic justice, and the people’s rights as citizens against “fascist” ideology, aiming to educate the community of East Lansing.

Other students involved with The Rent is Too Damn High are also involved in the Young Communist League, similarly to Folts. 

Camille DuVernois, a third-year political science and journalism major, is the co-chair of MSU’s YCL chapter. She also shares a passion for fighting for housing rights, which she explained is a “human right.”

“I have seen firsthand the trauma and pain that homelessness inflicts, but also just generally foster empathy for my fellow man when they are struggling against a system that refuses to support them,” DuVernois said.

DuVernois explained that, even though renting as an upperclassman is cheaper compared to a housing contract through MSU, it creates a tougher environment for students having to deal with high rent not covered by financial aid, deteriorating conditions, and a lack of landlord responsibility.

These issues with students renting are advocated by the Young Communist League at MSU. Many other members of the YCL are also involved with The Rent is Too Damn High.

“Both organizations function as a vessel to uplift the voices of working class and impoverished individuals and fight for their rights,” DuVernois explains.

The Young Communist League is a heavy supporter of The Rent is Too Damn High coalition, but you don’t have to be a YCL member to support the fight against high rent.

Izzy Kupe, another third-year student at MSU studying psychology, creative writing, and cognitive science describes her support for TRITDH. 

“I support any movement that has powerless people at the frontlines,” she said. “Students are very much just at the mercy of bigger institutions, and higher-ups have a history of mistreating college students, taking advantage of the multitude of situations that college students are under.”

Kupe lives off-campus with one roommate. She states she “got lucky” with her apartment situation, but still stands for a change in the renting system.

As an overall analysis, students are speaking up more frequently about the topic of rent and how it’s affecting them. As a growing concern for many Michiganders, and students, the fight for lower rent prices looks to continue and expand. 

Folts, especially, was passionate about the fight for change.

“Housing is a human right and that should not be denied or put a barrier of profit between that” Folts said.

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