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More than half of Sacramento area renters struggle to pay rent

The number of renters considered cost-burdened is rising in many California counties, even as the numbers drop nationwide. A new study from Apartment List finds more than half of renters in Sacramento County spend more than 30-percent of their income on housing.

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As the cost to live in Sacramento continues to rise, a growing number of renters are spending a significant amount on rent.

A new study from Apartment List shows 56.1 percent of renters in Sacramento County are cost-burdened – meaning they spend 30 percent or more of their household income on rent. That’s more than 170,000 households. Nearly a quarter of all renters in the county are considered severely burdened, spending more than half of their money on housing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says families who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing may have trouble paying for other necessities like food, clothing, and transportation.

According to the study, the rise in Sacramento and surrounding areas comes as the number of cost-burdened renters actually dropped nationwide. Still, rent affordability continues to be a major problem across California. In fact, nearly a third of all cost-burdened renters come from either California, New York or Florida.

In Sacramento, part of the problem is rent growing faster than incomes. Data from the Census American Community Survey shows from 2007-2017, rent grew by 10 percent. During that same time period, income didn't grow at all.

Click here to find the cost-burdened renters in your county

It’s not just Sacramento renters struggling to make ends meet. Here’s a look at the percentage of cost-burdened renters in some other counties:

  • Sacramento: 56.1 percent
  • San Joaquin: 56.9 percent
  • Stanislaus: 49.9 percent
  • Placer: 51.4 percent
  • Solano: 54.9 percent
  • Yuba: 47.7 percent
  • Nevada: 60 percent
  • El Dorado: 56.4 percent
  • National Average: 49.6 percent

San Francisco

San Francisco is one exception in California to the higher than average number of cost-burdened renters. Although the city has the highest rent in the country, Apartment List notes San Francisco “also has some of the best job opportunities, resulting in a cost burden rate that is below the national average.”

Simply put, rent in San Francisco is higher than most places, but people also make more money – which means they can better afford the higher rent.

Stanislaus County

While the number of cost-burdened renters is rising in much of California, Stanislaus County is seeing numbers drop.

In 2017, about half of renters in the county spent more than 30 percent on their rent. That number is about even with the national average and is at least a 10 year low for the county. From 2016 to 2017, the number of cost-burdened renters dropped more than 8 percent.

Renter relief

There are several efforts in California to control the rising costs of rent. This November, voters will decide on Proposition 10. If passed, it would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and give local communities the ability to expand rent control.

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Sacramento is one of the cities considering rent control. Mayor Darrell Steinberg said in a blog post that he supports temporary rent control, but thinks more affordable housing is the “only successful long-term strategy to stabilize rents and provide quality housing...” The city council is waiting to see if Prop 10 passes before likely voting on a proposal.

5 rent controlled cities in California

California Senator Kamala Harris introduced a bill earlier this year that would give tax credits to some renters. The ‘Rent Relief Act’ would provide a tax credit to renters who spend more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent and utilities. The credit would be available to households that earn less than $100,000.

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