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Gary Painter
The Census Bureau came out with some non-shocking news this week: The proportion of Americans in poverty spiked from 14.3% to 15.1% last year. That's 46.2 million of us and well over eight times the population of the National Capital Region. Let that sink in for a bit. University of Southern California Lusk Center's Gary Painter tells us there's a Catch-22 for tenants as unemployment digs into incomes while rents rise with demand in the major metros. What then? Households are combining. Typically, over one million new households form in the US every year; since ?08, though, there?ve been only one million total. (Hot stock tip: Invest in bunk beds.)

Robert Sheppard
Marcus & Millichap tax credit group head Robert Sheppard, based in Seattle, says the swollen ranks of unemployed don't alone make the affordable housing tenant pool bigger—prospective tenants still need some income to land a lease. Still, as former single-family and condo owners join the ranks of renters and increase demand, rents are rising, chasing other renters to Class-B and (trickle down) Class-C apartments.
Todd Franks and Sam Pettigrew
Cantrell Co's Todd Franks, with partner Sam Pettigrew, tells us Class-C occupancy rose from 86.6% to 89.2% in Texas' Dallas County over the past six months and from 84.4% to 87.2% in the Fort Worth Metroplex?s Tarrant County. In tandem, rents rose 2.2% in Dallas County and 2% in Tarrant. That means investors can start underwriting on two- and three-year forecasts again, he says. A woman recently interviewed for an assistant position at Cantrell. She had been an apartment locator and was looking for something new because, without concessions to entice renters, no one?s moving. Except, Todd says, for those downgrading from a higher asset class because of rising rents. (Look for Part II of this special report next week.)