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Rent Nearly Doubles At One City Heights Apartment Complex

The Marlborough Plaza apartment complex pictured on April 24, 2019.

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: The Marlborough Plaza apartment complex pictured on April 24, 2019.

Residents of the Marlborough Plaza apartment complex in City Heights were notified by their new property management company, Constellation Realty Management, that the rent for their two-bedroom apartments would increase from $1,075 per month to $1,875 per month.

Photo by Priya Sridhar

A letter from the Constellation Realty Management firm informing tenants for an upcoming rent increase, April 24, 2019.

The median household income in City Heights is approximately $40,000. That's $30,000 less than the median income of San Diego, according to city data.

For many current residents like Anahi, the increase is simply too much.

"We're going to be ... so tight because my husband is the one who works and I don't. I always stay with the kids," she said.

Many of the residents who didn't want to be fully identified, for fear of retribution, said families in the twelve-unit complex are already starting to move out.

Another resident, Noemi, said she had lived in the complex for seven years, but moved out over the weekend because she couldn't afford the rent with her wages as a dishwasher.

"We're paying a lot of rent, and that is why we're sad because they increased the rent by too much and we can't pay," she said through a translator, as she spoke in Spanish.

Constellation Realty Management responded to questions from KPBS by email. The company said the previous owner did not keep up with maintenance and reasonable rent increases. It said: "As shocking as the rent increase was as a percentage change, the underlying rent would have been characterized as too good to be true by anybody."

The management firm said the new rent reflects the bare minimum it will take to fix the building up and account for new taxes. But they said they are willing to work with tenants who need assistance, or who are interested in transferring to one of their other properties.

The company said it will help with moving assistance for the physically unable and will give tenants "the ability to step up to the new rent over time or some free rent up front".

An apartment complex in City Heights last week told residents their rent will increase 75% to $1,875, forcing residents to look for another place to live.

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