If the Shoe Fits Get Kicked by It

February has provided the results of a lesson imparted late last year. On a 2022 autumn afternoon, a recently arrived resident at my complex surveyed the then scene. A younger man of the immediate gratification generation, he disparaged our home. To him it looked “ghetto.”

Seeing the property through his eyes, I understood.

Trash littered the plaza. Despite prohibitions against doing so, some neighbors had stretched wet laundry along balcony railings to dry. Toys abandoned helter-skelter transformed the parquet into an obstacle course. Though window blinds are supposed to be uniformly white, a few residents had gotten creative with their sunshades. In one instance a tie-dyed blanket served to defeat any glare.

So, for what his landlord insisted upon as rent and this new tenant paid, value appeared falling short.
Not that I disputed the newcomer’s observation. Rather I explained how the scene changed, how it would change. I advised him to “wait and see.”

Since my own arrival at this Las Vegas address in 2013, economic circumstances had improved. Vastly. First, new management followed me in, then a flood of former owners either sold their properties or died. The latter condition left short-sighted heirs to thoughtlessly dispose of possible goldmines.

The vacant units attracted California investors. Though Nevada still reeled from the Great Recession, the Californians had foresight. Seeing the dirt-cheap prices, knowing upgrades inexpensive relative to future prospects and profits, bags of their money quickly drowned the local housing market.

Now, why didn’t Nevadans exploit the same opportunities? Although conspicuous affluence chokes the air here, so thick it drives crazy many who aspire to join its flow, only rarefied levels have proximity to those amounts. A good percentage of working Nevadans live close to the margins. Some margins are thicker than others, yes, yet even those previously relatively meager amounts to have become property rich evaded them.

How meager the ante? Depending on location, depending on – and I hate using this word – gentrification, a $25,000 out of pocket expenditure in 2013 could today have appreciated upwards into an easy 90-100,000 dollars. Extrapolate from there.

Newcomers intending to buy came – and still come – with wherewithal which confounds envious locals. And their envy easily slides into jealousy and resentment. But there’s little they can do other than perhaps seethe at the financial disparity challenging the primacy of born-and-raised Nevadans in their home state.

None of the owners subsequent to me would reside in their purchases. Theirs were solely investments. Period. Looking around, let me say I’m one of the address’ rare owner-occupants. Such continuity allows me clear reference.

Just off the top of my head, the only other recognizable “cave dweller” here would be a lady who works weeks on/has weeks off at an Alaskan fish processing plant. With nothing to spend on and nowhere to spend it in the Artic, she has big bank awaiting her every return to the Mojave Desert.

California investors have seen their properties with gelid-eyed purpose. Cash cows. Nothing less. With money rolling in bereft of using hand or fist, landlords or the management companies fronting investors, loosened standards regarding who occupied their units. After all, money is green. That’s all one needs to know.

The upswing out of the aughts doldrums coincided nicely with fattening bank accounts. Renters once lived in these units cheaply. The same could’ve been stated in most complexes throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

At the start of the Great Recession’s recovery, one- or two-bedroom apartments still didn’t strain working peoples’ budgets. After satisfying the landlord for that month, there should’ve remained plenty leftover to expend on Las Vegas amusements.

Covid supercharged rental and housing prices. The second ramped up even before the pandemic. The first got hurricane gusts in its sails after moratoriums expired.

Human nature being what it is, the chance to thumb noses at landlords during Covid’s depths was just too good to ignore. The supplemental money to states’ unemployment coffers from the federal treasury aside, an incalculable number of renters claimed “hardship” when it came to paying rent. Nonetheless, this “hardship” didn’t hamper them from buying 70-inch televisions, new furniture, or making downpayments on new vehicles.

Wonder where that money came from?

Can’t imagine any landlord looking at these cash diversions kindly. Especially when their property obligations still needed to be fulfilled. Somehow who can see any creditor lending sympathy? Talk about counting the days.
Once legal blocks vanished, landlords rightfully went on tears. And in Nevada, unlike, say, California, there are nearly no deterrents insofar as processes which either retrieve what’s owed or eviction and dispossession.

Besides delinquent residents being launched beyond their four walls, add inflicting rental rate rises just to begin recouping amounts withheld throughout Covid. Several hundred dollars in rent increases became common. Even more usual were renters scrambling for cheaper accommodations because their salaries simply could not absorb those gouges.

It is an observable fact that there are numerous instances of working people now unable to afford living quarters. Although gainfully employed, they are homeless. One can only imagine how having a family, children in tow, compounds this dilemma.

In California, there would be recourses and resources. Nevada is not California. In Nevada, it is pure ad hoc for people in this plight.

What last autumn’s new arrival saw was “before.”

“After” developed into ultimatums leading into rushed departures that would result in replacements by paying residents. Some marshals used blue tape, others orange, when slapping eviction notices on doors.

And in Nevada, nothing proclaims firmer that the jig is up when the marshal performs his duty.

For a steady time there the parking lot here resembled a rental truck staging yard. Lockboxes on railings abounded for a while. The ebb and flow of the housing market, as well as people relocating from out of state in search of affordable lodging, nebulous “freedom,” making discoveries of themselves that wouldn’t be cottoned wherever home had been, anonymity, or even having jobs letting them work remotely, steadily filled the vacancies.

Say this for the address as of this writing, it’s cleaner. It’s sightlier. Our custodian’s job has returned to normal. There was a period when the poor fellow must’ve thought his place of employment had become a salt mine.