New Report Shows Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster Than Income
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.