When Alexis Subra moved to the Adirondacks for a new job at the onset of the pandemic, it took her 10 months to find an apartment.
“It was just a race to get up here, especially in the high peaks region,” Subra said. “It was a nightmare trying to find a place.”
Luckily, because she’s originally from the area, she was able to stay with her parents in the meantime. She looked “anywhere and everywhere,” desperate to find something affordable. But much of what she found were older homes that were in dire need of renovation and asking “outrageous” rents nonetheless.
She eventually did find a place, but it was in her hometown of Schroon Lake, a 114-mile round trip drive from her office in Saranac Lake. And the building she’s living in is for sale, which means her spot there is not guaranteed for the long term. Three of her coworkers face similar problems and are currently experiencing housing insecurity. Like Subra, these coworkers have spent months searching for new housing.
“It’s definitely a crisis, and everyone is just in scramble mode,” Subra said.
Many of the issues leading to this housing crisis — namely the older housing stock and rising tide of short-term rentals — have been percolating for years, but Subra said the pandemic has made them much worse. She fears the cycle will only worsen during future crises, especially as climate change is motivating more Americans to move to rural areas that seem safer.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg of what we’re going to see,” she said.
— Mike De Socio
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story described Subra’s coworkers as on the verge of being “kicked out.” We’ve updated the story to better clarify their situation.