My Life as a Renter

Today 53% of residents in Raleigh live in multifamily housing. Going forward we need to ensure that our processes within City government and City Council include everyone, including renters. Renters are no different than anyone else. They want good homes, good schools, green spaces, trees, parks, sidewalks, restaurants, and places to shop. In short, they want good neighborhoods as much as anyone.

Citizen engagement means all citizens. And I am committed to ensuring that happens.

I am the oldest of my siblings. When I was born my parents lived in a small apartment on Oneida Avenue in my hometown. With another mouth to feed, my parents moved to another less expensive apartment.

We lived in a duplex in the downstairs apartment. My parents were middle class, blue collar workers. My dad was a telephone installer and my mom worked in an office. We were lucky enough in those days that my mom was able to stay at home for a time when I was young. My sister and I walked one block to our elementary school. Everyday we got an hour to walk home for lunch. Some of my fondest memories are having lunch on school days with my mom in our little apartment.

Our duplex was on a corner lot in a residential neighborhood. Architecturally, our home looked very much like a single family house. But if you look closely at the above picture, you will see two doors. One entered the downstairs apartment and the other opened to a staircase to the second floor apartment.

Our street was a mix of single family and multifamily homes. Across the street on the opposite corner was a larger building with two businesses on the first floor and two apartments on the second floor. Next to it was another duplex – a side-by-side. But looking up the street, there were single family homes.

We lived in our duplex until I was 15 years old. By then our family had grown to six. We needed a bigger place and by then my parents were financially able to buy their own house – a three bedroom, one bath house just a few blocks away.

Three years later, I moved out of the house and entered college and dorm life. After college I moved to Rochester, NY and my first place was a studio apartment in a three story building that was part of a larger apartment complex.

When the rent went up I moved into another apartment above a doctor and dentist office in a large, converted house. Four of us lived there and shared a kitchen, bathroom, and living room but we each had our own bedroom.

A few years later I married and my wife and I moved into our first apartment together – again the upstairs of a duplex in a residential neighborhood a few blocks from my in-laws house. Like me, my wife grew up in a residential neighborhood that was and is a mix of single family homes, duplexes, triplexes, and small apartment buildings.

For the next several years my wife and I lived in various apartments. Eventually, we were financially in a position to afford our first house – a small three bedroom, one bath house, just three blocks from our first apartment.

Altogether, I lived more than 25 years of my first 30 years in apartments.

Today 53% of residents in Raleigh live in multifamily housing. Going forward we need to ensure that our processes within City government and City Council include everyone, including renters. Renters are no different than anyone else. They want good homes, good schools, green spaces, trees, parks, sidewalks, restaurants, and places to shop. In short, they want good neighborhoods as much as anyone.

Citizen engagement means all citizens. And I am committed to ensuring that happens.