In the most recent data released through Apartment List’s annual report this month, Long Beach’s rent isn’t just increasing—it’s skyrocketing.
The results? An exorbitant 10.8% increase in rents year-over-year, making the median one-bedroom rent hit $1430/month. Such increases have prompted communities like Boyle Heights to fiercely take up arms against development and gentrification—something that could be harmful in moving the community forward economically but helpful in maintaining its culture and, most importantly, not displacing the people who invested in the neighborhood when it wasn’t appealing to affluent white folk.
Surely, Long Beach’s rents don’t near neighboring city averages: LA’s one-bedroom median monthly rent hit $1930, Irvine hit $1850, Glendale hit $2060… But those city’s increases don’t near the jump Long Beach hit. LA increased 4.2% year-over-year. Glendale’s dropped by a full percentage point. Even Pasadena, with an exorbitant one-bedroom monthly rental median of $2130 and also experiencing a skyrocketing rent increase, increased 7.1%, nearly four full percentage points behind Long Beach.
Right now, we’re in the middle of welcoming new development—much needed for density and economic development—but remain unsure of the costs it will have on residents who are already on tight budgets and working professionals who can’t afford to have significant portions of their income
The reason behind it all is divisive: landlords can increase rents throughout the city thanks to a real estate win-win for their pockets given the lack of rent control and an increased demand for apartments as unemployment declines and vacancy has fallen to under 3%.
And we are talking massive interest in apartments, despite rising costs, because, well, there are too many people and not enough places to live according to nonprofit Next 10’s most recent data: renter-occupied housing units with more than one person per bedroom grew from 12.7% in 2007 to 13.2% in 2014. Long Beach is joining the entire region in a housing crisis that is slowly driving low and middle income families and workers out of the state entirely.
In the decade between 2005 to 2015, permits were filed for only 21.5 housing units per every 100 new residents in the state. That put good ol’ California second to last behind Alaska, where only 16.2 housing permits were filed for every 100 new residents. By comparison, Michigan saw 166 permits filed for every 100 new residents.
As a result, Californian homeowners spend the highest amount of their annual income—25.4%—on housing. In LA County, nearly 60% of our citizens contribute 30% or more of their income to rent according to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard—which then cuts into other expenses, including food, healthcare, and contributing to the local economy.
In LA County, nearly 60% of our citizens contribute 30% or more of their income to rent—which then cuts into other expenses, including food, healthcare, and contributing to the local economy. Even more disturbing, 32.8% of renters in the area are considered “severely burdened” by their rent, meaning more than half of their income goes to rent.
Even more disturbing, 32.8% of renters in the area are considered “severely burdened” by their rent, meaning more than half of their income goes to rent.
The lack of affordability is (not shockingly and once again) most affecting low and middle-income renters: in the LA/Orange County Metro area, 91% of people who make $15K to $30K annually are considered legally burdened by their rent. Of that, a perturbing 70% of those renters are putting half their paycheck or more toward their monthly rent. Even among renters making $30K to $45K a year, 78% are exceeding that 30% threshold and paying more than they can really afford for rent. This burden doesn’t affect the more affluent: only 26% of those making over $45K only 26 percent are burdened.
Long Beach isn’t anywhere near implementing rent control-style policies, as attempts at REAP-like programs have largely been discussed but ultimately failed. Right now, we’re in the middle of welcoming new development—much needed for density and economic development—but remain unsure of the costs it will have on residents who are already on tight budgets and working professionals who can’t afford to have significant portions of their income
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