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 2020, renter households in the Bay Area would have had an additional $5.8 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...

“ For them to increase our rent and bamboozle us, I just think it is truly an unfair practice. How many people have already been evicted under these pretenses?”

— Joseph Alvarez, Petaluma

At the beginning of the pandemic, Joseph Alvarez moved to an apartment complex in Petaluma with his wife and children. It was the closest and most affordable option near his job in San Rafael. When their lease was up for renewal, the family was hit with a rent increase. Now, Joseph worries that they’ll be priced out of the area if this trend continues because his income is not increasing at the same rate. He is among 24 percent of the renters in Petaluma who are severely rent burdened, those who spend 50 percent or more of their monthly income on rent. In the nine-county region, nearly half (47 percent) of renters are rent burdened, which means 30 percent of their income goes toward paying rent. Learn more.


Photo: Felix Uribe

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