Economic gains: Eliminate rent burden: If renters weren’t paying too much rent, they could spend more on family needs and in the community.

Insights & Analyses

  • In 2019, renter households in the Bay Area would have had an additional $5.4 billion in spending power if rent burden were eliminated.
  • Black and Asian or Pacific Islander rent-burdened households would see the largest percentage increases in disposable income.
  • Among the nine counties in the region, renters in San Francisco would see the highest average percentage increase in disposable income with no rent burden.

Drivers of Inequity

Historically, the appropriation of land from Indigenous people and explicitly discriminatory policies like redlining and restrictive covenants created inequitable access to quality affordable homes in neighborhoods with good schools, parks, access to transit, and other ingredients for social and economic success. Today’s rising housing burdens, especially among renters, are caused by skyrocketing rents and stagnant wages for all but the highest earners. Housing production has not kept up with job growth and there is a dire shortage of affordable homes and a lack of financing to build them. Meanwhile, the tech boom precipitated an influx of highly paid knowledge-economy workers and put enormous pressure on the housing market, driving up rents and home prices. Rent stabilization can moderate rent increases, but these policies only cover about a quarter of Bay Area rental homes and are restricted to older, multifamily buildings by the state's Costa Hawkins law. 


Build community power: Strategies to ensure that renters thrive

Strategy in Action

Alameda County voters approve regional housing bond. In 2016, voters in Alameda County approved Measure A1, an affordable housing bond, which will create and protect affordable housing options for vulnerable residents, including seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. The measure has already allocated $79 million in commitments from fees on property owners amounting to $12 to $14 per $100,000 of assessed value, contributing toward the development of nearly 1,000 new affordable units. Learn more.

In Their Own Words...

“ I cannot take one day off or afford to be sick because now I pay more money for rent. $1,425 was what I used to pay — now its $1,950.”

— Betty Gabaldon, Walnut Creek

Betty Gabaldon had lived in her Concord apartment with her daughter for eight years and was actively organizing her building to form a tenants association (with help from EBASE and Tenants Together) when her new landlord issued her a 60-day eviction notice for no cause. She searched for a new home in Concord, where she works in two retail jobs, but could not find anything affordable. She was able to find a place in Walnut Creek, but the higher rent forces her to make tradeoffs between rent and other household needs. Betty continues to advocate for policies that protect tenants and their right to organize.


Photo: Felix Uribe

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