Housing burden: All residents should have access to quality, affordable homes.
Insights & Analyses
- Since 2000, rent burdens have risen dramatically in the region and statewide. Nearly half of Bay Area renters are rent-burdened.
- Low-income, Black, Latinx, Native American, Mixed/other renters are more likely to be rent-burdened, particularly among female-headed renter households.
- Sonoma and Solano counties have the highest levels of rent burden in the region.
- Black and Latinx homeowners are the most likely to be cost-burdened of all racial groups.
- Homeowner cost burden rose steeply between 2000 and 2010, partly due to the predatory lending crisis.
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.
Strengthen places: Strategies to ensure affordable homes for all
- Ensure strong tenant protections, such as just cause eviction ordinances, rent control policies, anti-harassment policies, and free or low-cost legal assistance for tenants facing eviction.
Support tenant organizing and the growth of tenant unions.
Raise resources and create new sources of financing to preserve and build affordable homes.
Increase the number of permanently affordable homes through community land trusts, limited equity cooperatives, and deed-restricted housing.
Include affordable homes within new market-rate developments using inclusionary zoning, community benefits agreements, density bonuses, or other tools.
Reduce the barriers to building affordable multifamily homes in wealthy, exclusionary communities.
Preserve affordable rental housing, particularly apartments located near job centers, public transit, and services.
Provide emergency rental assistance to prevent eviction and homelessness.
Expand California’s renters' tax credit to return more income to low-income families.
Bolster renter incomes by improving the quality and wages of low-wage jobs, expanding income supports, reducing the cost of childcare, and ensuring access to quality jobs.
Strategy in Action
In December 2020, San Francisco approved a policy that will cap rents for supportive housing tenants at 30 percent of their income. Pushed forward by tenant organizers and disability rights activists, these new protections will cover residents in nearly 8,000 supportive housing units. As these residents are more likely to be low-income and rent-burdened, rent caps provide a crucial tool to prevent homelessness and displacement. Learn more.
Photo: Photo by Lynnea Tan on Unsplash
In Their Own Words...
“ For me, as a mom, it was very positive my children didn’t have to move constantly.”
Rent control has allowed Evangelina Lara and her family to live in the same apartment in Oakland's San Antonio neighborhood for 20 years. Recently, a large corporation bought the building and sought to evict all the tenants by illegally raising the rent and then flipping their units. Using protections under the rent control law, with support from Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Evangelina and her neighbors successfully fought the rent increases and were able to maintain their affordable rents and stay in the city.
Photo: Felix Uribe
- Reports: The Housing Crisis Hits Home in Concord; Race, Inequality, and the Resegregation of the Bay Area; Rooted in Home: Community-Based Alternatives to the Bay Area Housing Crisis; Development Without Displacement: Resisting Gentrification in the Bay Area; Roots, Race, & Place: A History of Racially Exclusionary Housing in the San Francisco Bay Area
- Data: Urban Displacement Project; Anti-Eviction Mapping Project; California Housing Partnership Preservation Clearinghouse
- Policy inventories: Urban Displacement Project Policy Inventory; Association of Bay Area Governments Housing Policy Inventory (and database).