FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) How much can you afford to pay for rent? How much of your household income are you willing to put toward ‘home sweet home’?

The issue has become a hot topic here, evidenced by many comments on WANE’s Facebook page regarding the story on Dupont Meadows, a luxury rental home development under construction just behind Walmart on Dupont Road in northwest Allen County.

“Seems to me if you can afford that kind of rent, you’re pretty darn close to being able to afford a home and have something permanent to show for your monthly dollars,” one viewer wrote.

“We don’t need more rentals that people can’t afford. What we need are more homes for sale with affordable mortgages,” another person chimed in.

A spokesman for Dupont Meadows and the developer, Next Chapter Neighborhoods, based in Augusta, Georgia, said the company’s rental rates mirror their product-market rate housing.

“We are not low income or subsidized housing in any way,” spokesman Andrew Malzer wrote in an email. “We offer an elevated living experience for those who are looking for an alternative to renting a typical stacked apartment complex or single family home.”

Prices are based on household income and rental potential, Malzer said.

Household income in Allen County has increased, according to Rachel Blakeman, director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue Fort Wayne. Blakeman said focusing on household income rather than wages is a better way to focus on local spending power.

The latest figures in a 5-year period from 2016-2020 indicate median household annual income is $57,104. That amount for 2015 was $53,637, both figures adjusted for inflation.

Next Chapter Neighborhoods liked what they saw and hope to build other such communities here, needing about 30 acres to create one, Malzer said.

Malzer said there is a waiting list for Dupont Meadows that should be available next year. The people the developer is looking for include:

  • Retirees who appreciate the fixed-income, low maintenance lifestyle
  • Transient professionals who would prefer to rent an individual home than a traditional apartment
  • Established families who are in a transition period in their lives
  • Young people who have either been priced out of a starter home or are just choosing to wait until the market cools off a bit

“Our neighborhoods tend to become a microcosm of the communities of which they’re in – people of all ages and stages of life living together in a development that tries to establish and keep a strong sense of community,” Malzer wrote in his email.

Perhaps it would be easier to know why rents are climbing and some of it has to do with the purchase price, Blakeman said.

“The rule for real estate investing is your monthly rent should be equal to 1% of the purchase price,” Blakeman noted. “If you bought a house at $65,000 five years ago, 1% would be $650. If you buy that house at $145,000, you’re now at $1,450 a month.”

Rents are going up at least for investment properties, Blakeman said. “Big complexes, their rents aren’t going down. The increasing price of houses is going to drive up house rental. I can’t speak to apartments, but it’s not completely different.”

Another data driven report released by indicates in its June Rent Report that rents in Fort Wayne increased 1.5% month-over-month in May, compared to a national increase of 1.2%

In addition, Fort Wayne ranks 38th in month-over-month growth among the 100 largest cities in the U.S. Year-over-year rent growth is currently at 18.4% and was 8.3% at the same time last year.

For more comparison, apartmentlist says rents are up nearly 25% since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Median rents are $865 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,090 for a two bedroom apartment, apartmentlist says.