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San Diego Is Fifth Least Affordable U.S. City For Renters

Aired 4/17/14 on KPBS News.

A recent New York Times study found that San Diego is the fifth least affordable rental market in the nation. Renters spend more than 40 percent of their median income to keep a roof over their heads.

Least Affordable Rents

The United States is experiencing a rent affordability crisis. Here are the 20 cities where rents are highest relative to median gross income:

Median rent as a share of median income — 3rd qtr. 2013

Los Angeles: 47 percent

Miami: 43.2 percent

College Station, Texas: 41.8 percent

Santa Cruz, Calif.: 41.6 percent

San Diego 41.4 percent

San Francisco: 40.7 percent

Salinas, Calif.: 40.6 percent

San Luis Obispo, Calif.: 40.5 percent

Santa Rosa, Calif.: 39.8 percent

New York: 39.5 percent

Ithaca, N.Y.: 38.6 percent

Napa, Calif.: 38.5 percent

Flagstaff, Ariz.: 37.8 percent

Punta Gorda, Fla.: 37.7 percent

Boulder, Colo.: 37.2 percent

Honolulu: 36.9 percent

Santa Barbara, Calif.: 36.9 percent

Prescott, Ariz.: 36.7 percent

Ocean City, N.J.: 35.9 percent

Hattiesburg, Miss.: 35.8 percent

Source: Zillow

A recent New York Times survey found that San Diego is the fifth least affordable rental market in the nation. In San Diego, rents consume almost 41.5 percent of residents' median salary.

Eight other California cities also ranked in the top 20 least affordable rental markets. Los Angeles topped the list.

Michael Lea, a real estate lecturer at San Diego State University, said the region’s home building market is just starting to come back to life after it was effectively killed during the great recession.

“Multi-family permits have rebounded and are at or above what their pre-crisis levels were, but it is single-family that is basically a dying breed. You know, there’s only a few large tract developments left to build in San Diego and then we’re done,” Lea said.

Lea also said the region has long dealt with a short supply of homes to buy and rent, but growing demand. He said this will continue to push prices up, and keep the economy from growing as fast as it could.

“A lot of companies that may be start-ups, particularly in the tech fields, bio-tech and what have you, if they get to a place where they are now getting into manufacturing, they’re not going to site those jobs in San Diego or California. Now, there are a number of reasons for that, but housing costs are one of them,” Lea said.

A recent Harvard University study also found that money for affordable housing has dried up or been diverted since the housing crash, which makes it even tougher for regions with high housing costs to balance demand with supply.

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