“It’s horrible. Last year I helped a young coach who came to town and had to be to work by June 15 with a wife and kids; they ended up paying $1,200 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom mobile home,” Executive Director Murrell Foster of the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce said.
“That’s not unusual, I tell people who complain about the rent it is a matter of supply and demand. People can get it, so that is what they charge.”
Foster also said the same is true with hotel rates. He estimated a hotel room in 2005 would go for about $70. According to the Holiday Inn Express’ website, a standard hotel room in George West for a weekday stay now costs $174.42 per night.
“The biggest shift is in RV parks,” Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce volunteer Mike Pierson said. “I’ve met families who live in RVs because they can’t afford housing.”
Janet Turner, a four-year resident of Tips Park, said the park is almost always full of people living in tents or RVs but it wasn’t always like this.
“As fast as they pull out there’s somebody willing to take it,” Turner said. “It’s crazy.”
Three Rivers’ official population is about 2,000 but there are 3,500 water connections. Foster said cities often use water connections to estimate populations between census years. Pierson added that one connection can sometimes serve a few hundred people at a time such as at the man camps or Tips Park, both of which run on just one water connection.
“You will find few people that want to rent to a family; they want to rent to oil workers because they pay in cash and don’t mind being gouged,” Pierson said. “They get $100-150 per diem; for them to have a bed and a place to shower is great so they are way ahead under those conditions and the people aren’t declaring this on their taxes.”
Because the communities in Live Oak and McMullen counties are small, statistical data were unavailable. However, the classifieds section of The Progress is kept on archive.
The following rentals were posted in the classifieds section of The Progress and represent a snapshot of what house-hunting was like in the area at that time.
In the June 15, 2005, edition of The Progress’ classifieds section, a two-bedroom, two-bathroom mobile home was advertised for rent for $375 per month in George West. A two-bedroom, one-bathroom house in Three Rivers could be rented for $400 per month.
The prices didn’t increase much in two years. On June 13, 2007, The Progress’ classifieds section had a furnished two-bedroom trailer for $425. A cottage with one bedroom and a living room in Three Rivers was also available for $385. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Three Rivers with a fenced yard, central air, carport and utility room was available for $500.
Prices remained about the same up through 2011 with houses renting out for about $500 per month and trailers for about $400 with gradual increases along the way.
Then in 2011 rent started to increase.
A room for rent in George West was advertised for $400 on June 15, 2011, the same price as a house just a few years prior to that. The same edition of the newspaper also had a fifth-wheel trailer for rent for $900 four miles south of Kenedy.
One year later the June 13, 2012, edition of The Progress’ classifieds section had a one-bedroom cabin two miles north of George West available for $1,200 and a 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom house for $1,500.
Last week’s edition had a recently remodeled three-bedroom home available for $1,500 in Three Rivers and another three-bedroom house in Beeville for $1,400.
Meanwhile, Live Oak Apartments’ controlled rent unit prices went from $325 for a two-bedroom apartment in 2005 to $550 in 2013.