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Athens Rents Among Fastest-Growing in U.S.

Athens rents grew the tenth-fastest of any midsize city in the country over the past year, according to data gathered by an apartment-listing firm.

Rents in Athens grew by 4 percent over the past 12 months, outpacing the Georgia average of 1.8 percent and the state average of 0.9 percent. That ranked No. 10 among cities with populations between 100,000–250,000.

According to Apartment List, the median rent in February for a one-bedroom apartment was $770 a month, and $910 for a two-bedroom apartment.

That report bolsters a recent Georgia Initiative for Community Housing study that found that rent is often unaffordable for local workers. The average renter in Athens makes $13.42 an hour and can only afford to pay $698 a month in rent. Almost half of local renters pay more than the 30 percent of income recommended by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While $910 is still affordable compared to much of the country — Apartment List says the same unit would be $3,100 in the most expensive city, San Francisco, and the national average is $1,170 — incomes are comparatively low in Athens. Not counting college-age individuals, the local poverty rate is 28 percent. The median household income in Athens is $34,258, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, far below the national median household income of $59,039.