New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income title=
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income
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Activists protesting the no-cause evictions at the Ventura City Council Meeting in December (Photo: CAUSE)

By edhat staff

A local advocacy group released a report on the housing crisis and found the cost of renting is rising faster than income in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) surveyed 590 renters in both counties with an emphasis on working-class and immigrant neighborhoods where people are dealing with the most severe impacts of the housing crisis. Renters make up 51% of the population in Santa Barbara County overall and nearly 60% in the City of Santa Barbara.

Of those surveyed, 43% had experienced a drastic rent increase, 15% had been evicted, and 39% had experienced unsafe or unhealthy living conditions in the past five years.

The report states that between 2014 and 2019, rents increased by 27% and wages only increased by 8%.  "This crisis is particularly acute in the Central Coast, which has not benefited from the growth of high-wage jobs in California's major urban areas, but has still experienced the ballooning price of land along the California coast. Working families in our low-wage industries like agriculture and hospitality are unable to afford million-dollar home prices at poverty wages," the report reads.

In 2017, 55% of renters in both Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties were considered rent-burdened, meaning they pay more than 30% of their incomes in rent.

Based on the survey, many families have had to move out of their neighborhoods, take on additional jobs, or cut down on expenses such as food and healthcare to cover the cost of rising rent.

"When families face this imbalance and are foregoing basic necessities, rent eats before them," said Rob Fredericks, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Housing Authority.

The report also covers the local homelessness issue and states there are far more vacant housing units in our region than the number of people without homes. In 2017, the US Census estimated over 26,000 empty units, approximately ten times the number of people in the 2017 homeless counts for Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

Those surveyed stated lower and more stable rent as well as responsiveness from property managers to make repairs would improve their lives as renters. The report suggests a "Mandatory Lease Law" that requires landlords to offer tenants the option of a long-term lease as well as a "Rental Mediation Program" and the right to legal counsel. 

Rent stabilization is also suggested as the strongest type of tenant protection as new state law limits rent increase to 5% per year plus the annual rate of inflation, which is typically around 2-3%.

Specifically for local governments, the report urges leaders to make investments with a housing bond or donating land, offer no-cost options by streamlining permitting and approval for affordable housing projects, and work on alternative housing models such as community land trusts and limited equity cooperatives.

The full report can be viewed here.

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Frederick Dec 16, 2019 10:44 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Those of fortunate enough to own a piece of paradise we are indeed blessed. For those who cannot and probably never will be able to afford owning it's probably time to consider moving to a more affordable community where home ownership is still possible if you have a decent job.

ZeroHawk Dec 17, 2019 10:41 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

right Fred...right, so people like you can control the market and push out the middle class and lower class? Think again. That won't happen. If you're a landbaron and charge obnoxious rent to the locals that work and support this city and county, then you are just part of the bigger problem.

PitMix Dec 16, 2019 01:37 PM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

And those of you who are fortunate enough to own here and hire service people to work on your stuff, and police to keep your stuff safe, it's fine to have them live 70 miles away and spend a significant portion of their lives burning fossil fuels to help you out. Really it is a very precarious system that is one day bound to go bad; you got a little taste of that during the Montecito disaster with the 101 closed for a relatively short while. 6 hours to drive from Ventura to SB via Sta Maria.

sbsunny Dec 16, 2019 10:29 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

According to rent cafe, the average rent in Santa Barbara is about $2200. In a beautiful Salt Lake City, for example, the average rent is about $1200. Taking into account average salaries (according to, this means about 20% goes to rent in Salt Lake City and 35% goes to rent in Santa Barbara. There are plentiful jobs available in both cities. This is just one example of another nice city where someone could rent for less.

Sooo, someone could choose to live much more easily in another city if they didn't want to struggle with rent in Santa Barbara. It is a choice.

If rents were dropped to average $1200 here in Santa Barbara, then guess what? We would have so many more people trying to rent here and even more housing advocates demanding that there is not enough housing and we need to build more.

a-1576491524 Dec 16, 2019 02:18 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

STOP ENTITLEMENTS NOW! Good tenants are not evicted, they are valued. Their rents are rarely increased beyond the landlords expense increase for water, taxes, fees, repairs, and labor costs for maintenance. PRIVATE SMALL LANDLORDShave empty rentals all over Santa Barbara refusing to rent to demanding, militant, sue-crazed folks. Approached by reasonable prospective tenants, we will rent. Demanding people protest while others succeed in getting and keeping quality housing from responsive landlords.

Bene Dec 18, 2019 03:53 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Yes, I see your point 7170. I look at the pictures in news stories of tenants rights groups and their angry hate-filled faces, and all I can think is what landlord in their right mind would rent to that? These groups are trying to make an adversarial relationship between them and landlords, with the absurd presumption that ALL landlords are greedy and all of them are rich. Not only is the "rent too damn high" as these groups chant, but everything, including food, clothing, cars, gas etc. is too high. The expenses landlords pay for property taxes, maintenance costs, city fees, insurance, etc also are too high. When I can no longer afford to live in SB I will move, not try to force someone else to subsidize me. If you are a landlord look out though. The next thing these groups, which include the Aids Initiative group, are planning to force into law is removing a landlord's ability to choose their tenants.

letmego Dec 16, 2019 11:36 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

FACTOTUM, actually no - a review of actual market rent history shows that the $995/month was market rate at the time. However, the rental being in Goleta was the issue. Our theory is that we took over the rental in late May (a relatively good time to get a place), and the owner's son took care of the renting while the owners were on vacation. The owners had planned on raising the rents between tenants, and were accustomed to renting to students (2 per bedroom), figuring that an extra $325 comes out to approx $80 each. The son did not get the memo and rented it to us at the prior rate. The $330 rental increase came over the space of 11 months, the final increase of $150 coming JUST before the fall semester the following year (funny thing that). Awesome time to be looking for a new place, let me tell you. Ah, the landlord is fairly well known for owning a LOT of property in town. We'd have been happy to stay for years and years. But unlike some, who find the "unicorn" landlords who only raise rents occasionally, and by reasonable amounts (perhaps my spouse's first landlord fit that bill), we had difficulties again after that, as we rented a condo that was suddenly sold 9 months into our renting of it. After that we gave up and moved to student housing for a couple of years. For sure saving up over many years to get ourselves a mortgage was the best long term strategy. STILL though, at current market rental rates we could rent our house for the mortgage payment, but it would not cover the property tax. That is the case for a fair % of the smaller landlords, who perhaps bought and then had to move out of town. It is still far cheaper to rent than buy in this town.

letmego Dec 16, 2019 10:15 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Those landlords are few and far between, I think. Heck, I remember being a model renter 20 years ago or so, and my landlord raised the rent $330 in the first year, from $995 to $1325 a month. It's even worse now than it was then.

Tee Gee Dec 14, 2019 06:07 PM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

I'm closing in on seventy years of age. In the mid 1970s I made 4.25 an hour working retail, was a full time college student, and rented a studio apartment in a decent district of San Francisco for one 160. dollars a month.
Carry those figures to today:
That studio (3700 20th Street) rents today at over 3000. dollars a month. Approximately 18 times as much. If we multiply my 4.25 an hour times 18 we get over 75 dollars an hour. There's your inequality . What is the solution? I don't know. I'm just illustrating facts.

letmego Dec 16, 2019 10:17 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

2:42 am - my children are in, or went through, SBUnified elementary schools and they are doing fantastically well. I know vast swaths of young adults (19-30) who also went through SBUnified elementary and are successful.

a-1576511244 Dec 16, 2019 07:47 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

02:42 AM: If your son is making $21K / mo, he is well inside "the top 1%" (starts at $12.5K/mo+). Did he perhaps have have opportunities or privileges not accessible to all? You need to seriously ask yourself that if you cannot understand the difficulties had by others. While your advise is not wrong, what if their parents are already working two jobs, or they live in a single parent home, or a hundred other situations? Not everyone has the bootstraps to pull themselves up by.

a-1576492961 Dec 16, 2019 02:42 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Like you in1973, I rented for $450/ month at Buchannan and California Streets in SF. I made $650/mo, walked to work, ate the food left on patient trays. Fast forward 47 years. My young 25 year old son lives at Buchanan on Pacific.. his rent is $9300/mo — however he earns $21,000/month. His refrigerator stocked , in comparison to mine being bare. Today’s young educated prepared workers in STEM or a vocational skill are fine. SBUnified Secondary has done an excellent job preparing students who come out of non- SBUnified Elementary Schools. If you’ve a child in a SBUnified elementary , get out or volunteer FT as a teacher assistant to ensure your child is ready for global competition. Prepare your child to be the best at whatever passion and your child likely can pay rents, or will be offered an exchange agreement to pay for what they cannot afford to pay. Too many parents ignore preparing their child with required skills. Teach your child your trade. My construction worker neighbor’s high school only educated son just made partner in a large construction firm because his parents prepared him well. BTW: he’s 39 years old and owns 2 homes: 1 he rents. What’s with those who cannot pay rent? Did they marry or parent too young?

EastBeach Dec 14, 2019 01:21 PM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Last post .... the Fed's wage growth tracker shows that for the bottom quartile (lowest 25%) of wage earners (which is likely part of the survey group) median wage growth during survey period bounced from 2% to 3.5%. Just wanted a number to compare against annual rent increases.

a-1576493375 Dec 16, 2019 02:49 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

My social security only increased 1.5%. I get $805/month after the feds take out mandatory Medicare which I do not want or need. I’d be healthier eating and having secure shelter. Most of us only need 260 sq feet. Why build big units?

EastBeach Dec 14, 2019 01:07 PM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Skimming the survey results I noticed ..... reported rents for a 1BD apartment in SB increased by 12.5% over the period 2014-2019 which is 2.5% annually. But for Santa Maria, 5-year & annual increases were 55% and 9.5%. Holy smokes! For Oxnard it was 29% and 5.5% which is close to the CA state annual increase cap of 5% (if you don't factor in inflation) which I believe applies only to older rental stock. Santa Paula was 30% and 6%. Ventura was 38% and 6.5% ....... Somebody may want to check my math, right now I'm on a tiny laptop with tiny keyboard so may have made a mistake.

EastBeach Dec 14, 2019 12:41 PM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

The capitalization rate for smaller residential rentals in the city of SB is arguably around 4% give or take. So this what mom & pop landlords can expect. They will often accept lower net returns to keep stable tenants. But large/institutional landlords, especially if they're part of a public/private REIT, will want more. Remember, cash has been CHEAP since the 2008 recession. This has enabled large players to become even larger. Most folks don't realize this. Furthermore, the majority of those in the survey reported that they live in large apartment complexes - these are not mom & pop investment vehicles. I'd love to see a breakdown by owner type in the rental market.

rwelsh Dec 14, 2019 12:02 PM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

It all seems like a basic economics supply and demand course. Subsidies and public assistance and ignorant politicians simply muck it all up. I tried to get my child to take an accounting, economics or finance course in high school and in college. I lost the battle. My child is smart, but not educated in macro/micro economics... just like most everybody under a certain age. There are no mandated high school economics courses teaching reality. So people vote with their emotions... or don't vote at all. Rent control, subsidies and high density housing aren't the answer. It just makes for a less desirable place to live. If you can't afford it, move, get a better job, sell drugs, or become a politician who is bought and paid for. That's reality.

a-1576494004 Dec 16, 2019 03:00 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Teaching financial literacy is anti-California’s Socialist Manifesto. The CA Government leaders want dependent kids to vote for free and subsidized living rather than delay gratification by working smart for higher life satisfaction.

Chip of SB Dec 14, 2019 11:58 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

I believe very strongly that people should get paid more to work, a lot more. I think employers should be forced to compete with each other to attract talent, offering higher wages and more benefits. However, I think that issue is separate and distinct from housing. For the housing issue, I see three fundamental approaches. The first is the traditional free market approach that prevailed until the later part of the 20th century. Property owners were free to build what they pleased on their property and landlords were free to set rents without any restrictions. Under this system, the free market increased housing supply to meet demand and a person with a working class job could afford to buy a home in Santa Barbara. The free market approach also transformed the landscape. Ranches and lemon groves were replaced with the neighborhoods and apartment buildings we live in today. The second approach to housing started in the later part of the 20th century and largely continues today, an all out effort to resist development and change. New construction is heavily restricted, while pricing is left to the free market. The restricted supply has caused a dramatic increase in home prices and rents. However, you can still have whatever housing you want if you are willing and able to pay the market price. We are now starting to flirt with the third approach, price controls. In this system, the government regulates prices and rents, forcing them below the free market rate. While price controls may seem appealing as rents continue to increase faster than wages, this approach is disastrous. Yes, price controls will mean new homes are cheap and rents are low. However, what good are cheap homes and low rent if nothing is available? Imagine going on craigslist and finding the apartments / housing section empty. That is what true price controls will look like. If builders and landlords are not allowed to make a profit, there will be no housing supply. The only way to make housing affordable is to return to a free market. Simplify the building code to make new construction cheaper, allow property owners to build what they want on their land. Streamline the permitting process to make it fast, objective, and accessible to everyone. If we do that, we will see a boom in construction like never before. The city of Santa Barbara will build up and the surrounding suburbs will sprawl. A new equilibrium will be established where builders and landlords must compete to attract home buyers and tenants. The construction does not have to go on forever. There are 8 billion people in the world and that is increasing. However, there are only 330 million people in the USA and our birth rate is below the replacement level. We need to build a lot of housing to accommodate those who are already here, but we do not have to house the whole world.

a-1576365831 Dec 14, 2019 03:23 PM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

But where will the water come from for your new building boom? Will the sewage treatment keep up? Sure, it is possible to accommodate many more people with the current water supplies, but most of us don’t want to cut back any more than we already have. And water is just one concern.

a-1576351817 Dec 14, 2019 11:30 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Why is everything a “crisis”? Housing crisis. Immigration crisis. Climate crisis. Water crisis. Population crisis. Refugee crisis. Opioid crisis. Homeless crisis. Food safety crisis. Drought crisis. Health care crisis. Some places have a high cost of living. Santa Barbara is one of these places. This is not a crisis. No one is being forced to live here. I would like to live in Beverly Hills, but I do not have enough money for this. Maybe if I declare the “I want to live in Beverly Hills crisis” someone will buy me a house there.

OAITW Dec 14, 2019 11:29 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

It's often to easy to make landlords out to be evil greedy people. Another way of looking at it is, for a return on their investment, they are providing homes to 60% of the people of Santa Barbara, who otherwise could not afford to live here. If those rentals were to all appear on the market, how many of the current renters would be ready to buy. How many would have the savings for the down payment, the steady employment record with earnings sufficient to cover the monthly payment, the 800+ credit rating. Living in Santa Barbara is hard. We all know this. Please stop demonizing the people who have, through luck, opportunity, skill, and hard work, managed to successfully create a life for themselves in Santa Barbara. And by the way, I am not a landlord, just a retired homeowner saddened by the wrong headed decisions of our local elected officials that are destroying my community.

sbdude Dec 14, 2019 11:13 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

It's ridiculous to think that rents will decrease substantially without a corresponding economic calamity. Same with housing prices in general. If rents or prices went down 25%, there would be large numbers of housing units (both owner-occupied or rentals) underwater or foreclosed upon or otherwise distressed. This would bring about a severe reduction in available credit, lending, and a corresponding economic slowdown with mass layoffs and the whole works (2008 anyone?)

SBWoman Dec 16, 2019 03:22 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Rents are less for some because Elected SB City Council will require you to pay more to directly subsidize lucky me. Our elected officials decided you have too much so you should pay for me. No need for me to thank you: I’m entitled to whatever you have. Inclusionary Santa Barbara. Watch Jerry Robert’s’ interview w Rep Oscar Gutierrez?!! GzeeUs. I hope you don’t own a 4-bedroom house with an empty bedroom.

SantaBarbaraObserver Dec 14, 2019 10:07 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Make no mistake. There has been a fundamental failure on the part of our so-called "leaders" over the last 40+ years. Their short term thinking has led to an unnecessary reliance on the service and tourist industries for the city's own tax and revenue needs and desires. The results are a city heavily dependent on the ToT, business and sales taxes from the tourist and service industries for their own survival. Our leaders have ignored the impacts of promoting these low wage, high demand sectors whose business rely on our resources both natural (beauty, location, weather) and man made (water, sewer, roads, emergency, etc ). Most of these businesses are not owned by locals, they are mostly owned by corporate interests and outside investors. Their profits, built off our city’s natural attractions and generous incentives, are taken away from the city and spent elsewhere. The labor required to run these businesses are mostly low skilled, low wage that causes either a) increased reliance upon social services or b) heavenly increased traffic due to long commutes. The later takes even more money away from our town. These are necessary roles but are not good for the community when they make up the bulk of the jobs. To make matters worse: The leaders have ignored the promise of small business and start-ups and the incredibly rich talent pool that comes from UCSB, and have made it as difficult and expensive as possible to start and build a new, high wage, high value business here. Instead choosing to pursue short term bumps like cruise ships and marketing campaigns to attract national chains… All the while, our city’s leaders are increasing headcount, annually increasing their own pay and benefits and enjoying an increasing tax pool from which to pay themselves. ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| So the issue is not in the lack of affordable housing, its the abject failure of our leaders to build a stable economy and community instead opting for the easy, short term fixes. So it is not the cost of housing, it's the jobs that we have in this city and most importantly, why we have those jobs. |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| The reasons are clear, the solution is close by but the control over the decision is in the hands of the very people who will lose if we shift away from the service / low wage economy to a more sustainable and equitable one. It will come at a loss of growth and a need to have a city workforce more than twice the size and payroll of any comparable town. Time to ask your “leaders” why instead of accepting and demand that they change. We as a town of 100k are not capable of supporting the social services of 20-25K people. Its fundamentally impossible. Please vote with your children’s children in mind or things are going to get a lot worse…

a-1576362535 Dec 14, 2019 02:28 PM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

This trend to low wage jobs supporting the tourism industry started a while ago. In the 70's each beach, where the "Fess Parker" project was put, was originally planned for light industrial "think tanks" which were going into Goleta at the time. The City Council changed the zoning to accomodate the hoteliers, switching out good high paying job potential for low wage workers. Most of us locals haven't benefited from selling our waterfront to the highest (out of town) bidders.

SBLetsGetAlong Dec 14, 2019 09:47 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

CAUSE) surveyed 590 renters in BOTH counties
SB City has over 90,000 residents. Half are renters.
CAUSE spoke to less than 1% of renters in SB City.
In 5 years rent up 27%. That’s 5% per year.
The new rent control states rents can go up 5% plus CPI, roughly 7-8% each year.
So rent has gone up below the government allowed rent control.
If ones income is not going up, the workers need to speak to employers, employers need to pay more wages and companies need to charge more for their goods and services.
Stop buying cheep crap from China and other cut rate retailers.
Start paying a fair price for goods and services so people can be paid more wages and afford to live.
Or renters, move to an area that is affordable. That’s the way it used to be, drive 50 miles each way to work. I grew up driving 100 miles each day for work.
And if the workers all leave employers will start paying more in wages.

a-1576496112 Dec 16, 2019 03:35 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Don’t work here if you can’t afford it. Employers pay what we must. Local government overpays workers by taxing the rest of us the money we in the private sector would pay valued, essential workers. Limit government. Hey- why do City workers and SBCC get Fridays off with no salary reduction? Why? Because taxpayers don’t scream ‘Enough!’.

Lina24 Dec 14, 2019 10:29 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

When you grew up driving 100 miles each day to work, gas was cheap. I spent $400-500 a month commuting to my job 35 mi. away 10 years ago. When rents are $500 more a month here than nearby towns, and the cost to commute isn't feasible, there's not much of a choice for employees other than to stop working here. Santa Barbara is eventually going to price itself out of being a viable place to live when the Service Industries close due to lack of workers.... or businesses like the Hotel Industries are just going to have to start housing their employees.

rwelsh Dec 14, 2019 09:23 AM
New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income

Yay to OAITW. Spot on with every point. "There is effectively infinite demand for housing in Santa Barbara". I grew up in SoCal, have lived in SB as a renter for almost 3 decades and I don't understand why our govt officials say that people have a RIGHT to live here no matter what!?! RE #8, add to that the TECH INDUSTRY. We will be owned by it soon, if we aren't already. The tech industry was wooed into coming here, they are HERE now in huge numbers (tons of app-controlled, sun-challenged, man-bun, man-beard, pencil-necked, tatooed, trendy, techie urbanites flooding our town) and so rental and housing prices will rise to crazy prices exactly like the bay area. I never thought I would say this, but SB is getting claustrophobic and daily decreasing in attractiveness and noise levels with all the high-density housing, horrible traffic, new blinding street lights and ugly telephone poles & telecommunication devices and spiderwebs of cables above our heads. This all saddens me, and I will probably vacate my rental soon for bluer oceans, less crowded streets and gang-free living, no matter how small my living area has to be.


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