Pay the price – the Sacramento Observer
Tyra Green and Ayaana Williams | Special to the OBSERVER
Amid California’s housing crisis and rising cost of living, the Sacramento area has seen a disproportionate increase in black residents moving to other states over the past decade.
About 25,000 black residents left the Sacramento area from 2012 to 2019, while only about 20,000 arrived from other states. The greatest disparity was observed among those who left the region for Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
Sacramento’s cost of living is currently 17% higher than the national average and its accommodation is 37% higher than the national average. According to Zillow, the current median home price was $ 717,854 in California in September 2021.
The higher cost of homes and living has been felt by low-income California residents of all races, as people living in Sacramento County have to earn almost $ 27 an hour to pay average rent. However, a disparity exists among black residents of the Sacramento area who hold the second highest rent charge in the United States, according to a study by Zillow.
Black households spend 52.2% of their income on rent compared to 37.4% for Hispanic renters, 32.5% for Asian renters and 30.5% for white renters.
Local housing professionals have said they have witnessed the rising cost of homes forcing people out of the state.
“In my business book, clients who left California did so because the cost of living in other states is much lower and they can acquire property. [for] much cheaper, ”said Sacramento real estate agent Zoritha Thompson. “I just had a client who sells here and moves to Alabama, where he took his equity and could almost pay cash for his new home.”
In addition to the cost of living, there are a series of factors responsible for this glaring disparity between black residents moving to and from the area.
“There is a huge gap in the city of Sacramento in a skill set with African Americans compared to everyone else; So as the city’s rents rise and home mortgages rise, you need the skills to get the job in order to continue living in the city, ”said Betty Williams, Sacramento branch president. NAACP. “So you find a lot of migration, of outgoing, because our people don’t have the skills to have the wages to get or maintain their houses, so they go elsewhere where they have more flexibility and ability to live. comfortably outside of Sacramento.
In addition to housing prices, the cost of living includes the prices of gas, groceries, public transportation, and headline inflation across the state.
“Take gas for example, we have the highest gas prices in the country,” Williams said. “What used to cost someone $ 100 is now probably costing them more than $ 150 or $ 160 that they don’t have, and what it took to fill up with regular gas was $ 30, I was told. now says it’s almost $ 60 and $ 70 and so you can’t even maintain your day-to-day when you are looking at the essentials.
Although some companies will be raising wages in an attempt to keep up with the growing cost of inflation in the region, the United States has experienced a huge disparity between wages and inflation over the years.
Workers got a 3.4% pay rise in the past year, but suffered a 2% pay cut due to rapidly rising inflation, according to the state Bureau of Labor Statistics -United.
There is also a racial pay gap that exists just like there is a gender pay gap in the United States. In 2019, Payscale.com analyzed that black men earn an average of 87 cents for every 91 cents earned by white men.
“You used to walk into a place between $ 900 and $ 1,400. Now it’s starting at $ 1,750 and up just to rent a seat, ”said Williams. “You have to earn two or three times the rent amount per month to qualify. So if you earn a minimum wage of $ 15, you will not be able to rent a house for $ 1,750 per month because you are not eligible for it. “
Black residents who moved to the Sacramento area between 2012 and 2019 tended to be wealthier than those who arrived. Of those who left Sacramento, 46% had earned incomes below the poverty line the year before they left, according to census data. By comparison, 29% of those who moved to the region during this period had incomes above the poverty line in the year before they arrived.
Business consultant and president of Freeman Consulting & Development, Mark Freeman, believes black residents could specifically leave the area due to the job market. Although it is a large metropolitan city, Sacramento has fewer income opportunities when you consider people who wish to work in certain industries.
“Income plays a big role, maybe this is one of the reasons Sacramento is collapsing because we don’t have a lot of headquarters here, we have satellite offices, but it limits your upward mobility. “said Freeman. “So if you have someone who has the potential for upward mobility you often have to leave town or state to find those opportunities, I think that is changing though and Sacramento is expanding.”
The cost of living in Texas is one of the lowest of any coastal state. Therefore, many people living below the poverty line in any state tend to settle there. In Dallas, Texas, the median home price is $ 282,195, up 18.9% from a year ago, compared to Sacramento where the median home price is $ 468,036, up by 25.6% last year, according to Zillow estimates in September 2021.
When black residents who cannot afford to live in Sacramento flee the area, it can create fewer incentives for the city to plan for more low-income housing. It can also mean less black voices in local government and education.
“We are trying to uplift all of our communities in the city of Sacramento, and especially those that have been historically disadvantaged,” said Mary Lynne Vellinga, communications director for the mayor’s office of Sacramento.
In light of the current trend, the city of Sacramento has made huge efforts to help black households in low-income neighborhoods, Vellinga said.
“We recently worked with UC Davis and the Sacramento Investment Without Displacement group to secure a deal for the new innovation district of Aggie Square on Stockton Boulevard to avoid travel to surrounding neighborhoods,” she said. for follow-up. “The deal includes a $ 50 million commitment to build affordable housing on the Stockton Boulevard corridor as well as programs that will help fund repairs and provide other supports to existing residents.”