Housing crisis in Sacramento worsens for everyone
The housing crisis in Sacramento is really hitting home. As an able-bodied white woman with a stable job earning more than minimum wage and a family to depend on, I am extremely privileged. Yet I’m still just a missed paycheck away from trouble.
When I returned to my hometown in September, I never imagined that finding accommodation for myself and my dog would be such an ordeal. But it is daily.
Did you know that rental inquiries cost money? Usually $ 25 to $ 50. I’ve paid for at least six in the past four weeks.
Some locations will only accept online applications, while others will only accept printed and hand-delivered applications. Be sure to also bring your last two pay stubs and letters of recommendation from your last two owners, in addition to your application and fees. They may also charge you for a background check – that’s another $ 40 – or a guided tour.
No animals in one; only small animals under 20 pounds in another. There are also breed restrictions to be aware of, even if this is a documented support animal. And you could be billed more monthly for the privilege of having that pet.
And how is your credit? If it’s not at least 650 without significant debt, like student loans or medical bills, then don’t bother applying at all. Each request comes with a rigorous credit check, so make sure it’s high enough to withstand multiple hits.
And all of that hard work only pays off if you’re lucky enough to get your offer accepted, which is worse than a raffle when applications start to pile up within minutes of posting the ad. An acquaintance suggested that I set an alarm for ads that meet my needs, respond within 30 minutes of posting, and offer at least $ 100 per month above demand. But be careful with your personal information because you are sure to come across scammers online.
Inflation is at its highest in 31 years, and economists expect it to remain so for another year. Meanwhile, housing across the country is at its lowest in 40 years. The cost of living in Sacramento is 17% higher than the national average, according to Payscale, with accommodation 37% higher. Residents of Sacramento need to earn around $ 27 an hour to pay the average rent, around $ 1,400.
Renting is my only option as house prices are rising higher and higher. I grew up in Sacramento, in a three bedroom, two bathroom home my parents bought for about $ 75,000 in 1984. Today that home is valued at about $ 325,000. Perhaps most infuriatingly, the mortgage on this house is less than what I had to budget for rent in Sacramento in 2021.
Unsurprisingly, it’s much more difficult if you’re a person of color, with black households spending over 50% of their income on shelter and Latino households 37%. And even with California’s minimum wage hovering around $ 15 an hour, a couple or a pair of roommates each earning minimum wage (which is currently $ 14 an hour) would barely have the right to rent a space at $ 1,400 per month.
“We are in a housing crisis,” said Crystal Sanchez, president of the Sacramento Homeless Union and western regional director of the National Union of the Homeless. “With rental costs exceeding $ 1,725 and more per month and an economic shift during the pandemic, we are seeing people fall into eviction and homelessness. “
Sanchez said many find it “almost impossible to find rental accommodation” in Sacramento right now.
“Most people don’t earn three times the (average rent) these days,” she said. “People on fixed incomes such as Social Security are not eligible. People who are homeless are also not eligible, even after earning an income, due to the fact that they were previously homeless. The whole housing situation needs to be turned upside down.
A 2015 report from the Office of Legislative Analysts suggests that California should have built an additional 70,000 to 110,000 housing units each year between 1980 and 2010, with a shortfall of nearly 3.5 million units over the past three decades. A state census counted more than 161,000 homeless people in January 2020, a number that has likely increased since the start of the pandemic. Even affordable housing in California is not particularly affordable.
Sacramento owners and property managers blame the low rental vacancy rate, the pandemic, an influx of Bay Area tenants and local elected officials for not working with real estate developers to build more.
“To meet our long-term affordable housing challenge, we need a diverse range of housing options, from apartments and secondary suites to single-family homes,” said Mallori Farrell of the California Apartment Association. . “To get there, our locally elected officials must work closely with home builders to craft policies, such as lower development costs, that will help the region meet its future housing needs.”
What an escape. Landlords and rental companies share the burden of helping solve this problem as much as any other player in the game. We all share the responsibility of providing housing to our community, as tenants remain human beings in need of assistance. ‘shelter, regardless of their credit rating.
Raising rents to the maximum, by accepting only tenants who meet ephemeral and changing criteria, is classist and often also racist. Transferring the responsibility to expatriates and elected officials in the Bay Area is a practical excuse to ignore the questionable morals of being a modern landlord.
Since returning home, my world has been boxed and stored in second, third, and fourth locations. It’s hard to describe how unsettling it is not to have a place of your own and to be surrounded by your own things, your own bed, books, and clothes. The day I finally unwrap my last box, I’ll cry in relief. But that day seems farther and farther away the more I look for accommodation in Sacramento.
This story was originally published December 16, 2021 11:00 a.m.