FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Census data shows that younger renters are paying a hefty portion of their monthly income in rent. Younger renters in Northwest Arkansas are saying they sometimes have to skip meals to make their rent.

Chinmaya Joshi is an international and mechanical engineering student at the University of Arkansas.

“That’s horrible. That’s just not doable,” said Joshi.

He says he’s been a renter for more than a year. He also says that even though he is a student and has a part-time job, he still has to come up with enough money to make his rent.

“Like my scholarships, I only pay the tuition, and for my own income, it takes off like 70% of it,” said Joshi.

According to data from the Census Bureau in 2022, he’s not the only one. The data states that based on household income, 43% of renters in Northwest Arkansas spent at least 30% of their income on rent last year. Joshi says his current rent is about $600 plus utilities. But once he signs his next lease, he says it will increase by $200.

“I will have to pay about $800 along with not flat utility. So it might vary month by month. And that is going to be a problem,” said Joshi.

He says it’s to the point where paying rent interferes with his studies.

“It’s not a huge problem, but it’s certainly like in the back of my head. I also have to pay rent,” said Joshi.

The data shows those paying the most, were 24 and younger. Al Allen has also been a renter in Northwest Arkansas. She says this is something she’s struggled with for quite some time.

“Just like growing up in poverty. I grew up skipping meals, and I guess it’s kind of something that we don’t really talk about a lot. But, I hear a lot of people talking about it, so I’ll come forward and say it. I’m one of many,” said Allen.

From her own experience, she says this is something she’s seen up close.

“It’s a lot more heartbreaking whenever you hear people talking about them skipping meals to make the rent,” said Allen.

Allen says it’s a bigger issue than just those in the area, but a change needs to be made at some point.