All Renters Squeezed

A woman marching for housing rights stops on Mission Street to listen to speakers talk about the luxury condos being constructed where the Giant Value store once stood. Photo by Molly Oleson

A woman marching for housing rights stops on Mission Street to listen to speakers talk about the luxury condos being constructed where the Giant Value store once stood. Photo by Molly Oleson

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The New York Times editorial board writes today about the national crisis for renters and calls on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to pay into the National Housing Trust Fund to stimulate more affordable housing construction.

 

The crisis in affordable housing was underscored in an alarming study released this month by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard. The study found that, from 2000 to 2012, renters were caught in a relentless squeeze, with falling wages on one side and rising rents on the other. Median gross rents went up by 6 percent, while the median renter’s income declined by 13 percent.

Nearly half of all renters earn less than $30,000 a year. According to the report, about half of them now pay more than a third of their incomes on rent — up 12 percentage points from a decade ago. A quarter of renters pay more than 50 percent of their incomes in rent, which places them at clear risk of homelessness. Read more here. 

Filed under: Mobile, Today's Mission

7 Comments

  1. John

    The premise of the article is flawed. it states ” renters were caught in a relentless squeeze, with falling wages on one side and rising rents on the other.”

    But such a disparity cannot be sustained, because the price of something is limited by peoples’ ability to purchase it.

    So if the average rent is not affordable by the average renter, then either rents will fall or incomes will rise.

    The idea that the cost of anything can inflate beyond the point where people can afford it is self-contradictory.

    • Thats oversimplified as usual. You assume that the population and available housing are static. Also you are missing out on the fact that real wages are stagnating or declining in most jobs. Finally, you ignore that housing is a special type of good that everyone needs, like food and water. So people will pay more because they have to, even if they make less. “We’re going to save on housing this week kids, let’s go sleep under the overpass.” Essentially this means they have to cut back on other costs like education, health care, clothing etc etc

      • John

        Of course people are willing to pay more for something they really want over something they want less. That is exactly how products and services are priced!

        But my point was that rents cannot by definition be more than someone can pay.

        If you choose to spend 2/3 of your income on living in SF rather than 1/3 of your income living in Oakland, that is your decision and not my problem.

        • Kate

          John,
          It’s disappointing that you often have something to say that is void of compassion and usually sums up to “poor people are poor because they choose to be”. It may be difficult for you to understand that people’s families, jobs, and available transportation can keep them tied to a place that is difficult to afford, but it doesn’t make it any less true. I hope that some day you will be able to open your heart and speak humanely in regards to your neighbors suffering whether you personally feel it is valid or not.

          • John

            Kate, it’s not about compassion but about reality. If someone has cheap rent in SF it is only because somebody else is subsidizing them.

            That might be OK if it were the City subsidizing them and the voters had agreed to pay extra taxes to fund that.

            but that burden falls on a relatively small number of people – landlords. And when that burden becomes too excessive, the Ellis Act allows them to liberate themselves from that disproportionate burden.

            IOW, the system has balance – subsidies with an exit clause.

  2. Kate

    John,
    Your view point is part of your personal reality. Everyone has a frame of reference when judging and understanding society and others. Most people’s versions of reality are different. Being able to acknowledge this is an important part of living in harmony with neighbors…. However much they can afford to pay a landlord.

    I am not saying your personal views re: the ellis act are right or wrong. I am saying only that it serves everyone to think, speak, and generally treat each other humanely. We all make the best choices we can, both rich and poor. That is my view of reality.

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