Spain money

In San Francisco, you have to make this much money to rent an apartment

It now takes an income of more than $61 an hour to comfortably pay rent for the average two-bedroom apartment in the San Francisco metro area.

That’s far more than in other expensive U.S. cities like New York, where it costs $45 an hour, and more than triple San Francisco’s $16.99 minimum wage, according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The San Francisco metro area, which also includes affluent Marin and San Mateo counties, tops the national list for the highest “housing wage,” or hourly earnings needed to spend no more than $30. % of federally recommended income in rent. No. 2 is Santa Cruz, where residents must earn more than $60 to rent a two-bedroom on average. In Metro Area #3 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, the figure is about $55 an hour.

“These numbers are just a very clear mirror,” said Alina Harvey, communications director for the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California. “We see how the economy has created this big gap between the haves and the have-nots.”

This isn’t the first time Bay Area cities have dominated the coalition’s annual report on the stark disconnect between daily incomes and housing costs. While the new report shows a still small reduction in the gap between what people earn and what they need to earn to afford quality housing, the report warns against comparing figures from different years due to changes in the way average rents are calculated.

Now, however, all eyes are on the changes triggered by the pandemic. After more than two years of remote work, migration anxiety and eviction battles, Bay Area numbers reflect a growing divide between renters of different income brackets, a lack of buying options of a home to relieve the pressure and an uncertain road for households still struggling to catch up. COVID rent debt.

The report attributes the imbalance to a range of factors, including stagnating low-wage wages, inflation, an increase in the number of landlord investors and a shortage of some 960,000 affordable rentals in California. There is also the matter of the growing demand for rentals; from the start of the pandemic to mid-2021, around 870,000 tenants entered the market, the report notes – some not by choice.

“Many households entering the market were high-income renters,” the National Low Income Housing Coalition report explains, “who may have been shut out of the increasingly competitive home buying market. “.

The abundance of high-income renters is most evident in the technology and professional services-focused San Francisco and San Jose metro areas, where the average renter now earns around $65 per hour and $68 per hour. hour, respectively, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusted. data analyzed in the report. Compare that to an average renter income of $31 an hour in Oakland, which has a stronger base of industrial and administrative jobs, or less than $20 an hour in Santa Cruz, centered on tourism and l ‘agriculture.

Nationally, the report also found that unaffordability “disproportionately hurts Black and Latino households” due to persistent income disparities and the fact that these households are less likely to own homes. About 30% of white American households are renters, compared to 58% of black households and 46% of Latino households, according to census data.

At first, Oakland seemed like a place of opportunity for Maria Montes de Oca. She moved here more than two decades ago after leaving the Mexican coastal state of Jalisco. Rent was a reasonable $750 when his growing family moved 14 years ago to a “supposedly clean” one-bedroom Fruitvale apartment that turned out to have a dirty stove and old carpet, he said. she declared.

The carpet stayed the same while the rent rose to $850, then $950, eventually reaching the current rent of just over $1,500. Her husband changed jobs to try to keep up, Montes de Oca said, but even a new job cleaning an upscale hotel left little income for food or other necessities for a family of five persons.

“We were still limited,” she said in Spanish, “because every year the rent went up.”

The pandemic has also shed light on tenants and now former tenants in extreme situations. In Alameda County, homelessness has soared 22% in three years, reaching more than 9,700 people each night. From San Francisco to the shores of the Delta, tenants were evicted from garages or marinas they resorted to living illegally.

Politicians and housing advocates have hit back with a range of potential solutions: $2 billion in public funding for affordable housing, new taxes on vacant homes, federal proposals for more housing vouchers, temporary help for tenants and legal representation in eviction cases.

For Harvey of the Non-Profit Housing Association, the scale of the proposed solutions still does not match the scale of the problem. A clear local way to begin to change this, she said, is for residents to become more involved in the state-mandated housing planning process – known as “regional housing needs allocation”. Housing” – which calls on the nine Bay Area counties to plan for more than 440,000 new homes by 2031.

It’s a process that’s already sparking controversy, political maneuvering and legal threats, and which she says will take both tenants and landlords like herself to prevent more people from being forced to move out.

“If I’m not going to fight and support my neighbors for stability, then what’s the point?” said Harvey. “I won’t have teachers for my son. I won’t have anything that makes a community worth living in.

For Montes de Oca, meanwhile, things took an unusual turn. She and her neighbors began pushing back annual rent hikes six years ago with little offer in return. When the pandemic hit, they went on a rent strike.

As a mother of three, it was a daunting prospect. But lawyers and tenant activists got involved, and in June a deal was struck to sell the 14-unit building to the Oakland Community Land Trust for $3.3 million — a move that Montes de Oca, will freeze her family’s rent and, she hopes, provide long-elusive stability.

“It was really six years of fighting, of stress,” she said in Spanish. “It was not easy.”

There were nine families there when the fight started, recalls Montes de Oca. Now there are only two left.

Lauren Hepler (her) is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @LAHepler