San Diego is worst place in the country for Black renters, new report shows
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Rising rents and limited affordable housing are difficult for many San Diego ans, but KPBS, race and equity reporter. Christina Kim says the housing market is particularly challenging for black renters.
Speaker 2: (00:14)
San Diego is the worst place to be a black renter in the whole country. According to a new study by Zillow, an online real estate company,
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I found that red burgers are the highest for black households in San Diego and block renters and San Diego spend more than half of their income or 53% of their income on rent.
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That's Nancy. Woo. She's the economist at Zillow who led the study. So what exactly does it mean to be rent burden? It means a person pays 30% or more of their income on rent. So black people here in San Diego are on average, very rent burdened. That means they have a lot less money left for anything else like saving to buy a home or a medical emergency.
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Honestly, it's not surprising. Um, I grew up in south
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Gabriel. Heinz is a school counselor in San Diego. She's black and grew up in the skyline neighborhoods, surrounded by family and friends. She and her family recently moved because they couldn't afford the rising rents in south east. They found a more affordable option in Lamesa, but the rent is still expensive.
Speaker 4: (01:19)
I was making 18 an hour, but I recently got my masters and I'm a school counselor now and I'm making 28 an hour. And it's crazy. Cause if it doesn't feel like it, um, just because rent is so high,
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Staying in Southeast, would've meant spending more than 30% of their income on rent with the cost of daycare and other bills adding up, it just wasn't an option for them. And she says, she's not alone. A lot of other people in her ones, predominantly black neighborhood of San Diego are also being pushed.
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And it almost makes people feel like, you know, they're not good enough to live in the neighborhoods that they,
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I came from San Diego rents are expensive and getting increasingly more so for renters across all demographics says Nancy Wu from Zillow,
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Um, across the country. We've seen that in San Diego, for example, the pandemic has, has increased the rent burden across
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Households, Latino renters in San Diego pain, nearly 40% of their income on rent and Asian and white renters both pay more than 30% on average, still black renters in San Diego pay the most at 53%. That's about 18% more than the national average.
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I, our calculation San Diego, I had the biggest discrepancy in the gross income between block renters and other renters, as well as block renters intending to go versus elsewhere. That types of rising rental costs and less friends will affordability is the reason why we're seeing the biggest discrepancy and the biggest rent burden for block renters in San Diego.
Speaker 2: (02:47)
Woo says these inequities are a reflection of historic racial discrimination combined with low household incomes and rising rents. She found that black renters in San Diego made an average of $3,493 a month in August when the average monthly rent was $1,835 in a statement to KPBS mayor Todd, Gloria called the study results, infuriating, but not surprising. He added that's why one of the first things I did after being sworn in as mayor was to make equity central to everything we do. And every decision we make mayoral spokesperson, David Rowland said the city has already invested in rental assistance programs and launched several business and youth development programs aimed at San Diego's communities of color. But these solutions take time. And for now renters like Gabrielle Heinz are still paying a lot of their income on rent.
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We stressed, you know, it feels like, uh, you know, we're barely making it.
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Joining me is KPBS race and equity reporter, Christina Kim, Christina. Welcome.
Speaker 2: (03:52)
Hey Maureen, thanks for having me.
Speaker 1: (03:54)
You know, it's surprising that San Diego was the place where black renters are the most overburdened. What about places that have even higher rents like San Francisco in New York? Yeah,
Speaker 2: (04:05)
That's what I thought as well. San Diego has an expensive rental market, but to your point, San Francisco and New York are always buying for the first, when it comes to high cost of living. The way that Zillow economists calculated. This was by looking at census data on average salaries, based on race and ethnicity, as well as Zillow's own marketplace insights that track the average rental prices of a particular area. So what they, when they ran that, what they found is that San Diego, black renters have a lower salaries and pay higher rents than anywhere else in the country. At least when they ran that data in August. So it's not so much about where the rent is highest, but so much is where our wages lower and rents higher. And as they found it for black renters, it's here in San Diego
Speaker 1: (04:51)
And Zillow found that the average black household and San Diego pays 53% of their income on rent. So does that mean some families are paying even more?
Speaker 2: (05:02)
It's hard to imagine, but yes, that's right. An average is calculated by adding up the sum of a total and dividing it by the total number of values. So when we hear that black households pay more than half of their income on rent, that does mean that some households are paying even more. What's
Speaker 1: (05:18)
The situation in other places around the country,
Speaker 2: (05:21)
Right? So we've been talking about San Diego specifically, but nationwide the numbers look a little different with black households paying 34% of their income, Latinos paying 32% and white households paying 29% and Asian households paying the lowest at 26%. Interestingly enough, the place where black renters are also highly rendered and is also here in California, in Sacramento, actually, where they spend on average 52% of their income. So what that tells us is that in both Sacramento and San Diego, we're seeing rising rents and wages that aren't catching up.
Speaker 1: (05:56)
Now, your report, historic racial discrimination plays a role in this rent burden for black San Diego. Can you tell us how,
Speaker 2: (06:04)
Yeah. The number one question when reports like this come out is how did this happen and how do we fix this inequity? But the answer is that there's no single answer. Or as the Zillow study itself shows says, there's no silver bullet, but we can understand how we got here. I know midday just had a housing specialist yesterday looking at historic inequities in housing. So it's not going to come as news to your listeners. But the thing is, is that practices like red lining, racially restrictive covenants, a lack of investment in social housing or affordable housing over the past few years, coupled with the fact that we know that wages in San Diego have not kept the pace has created the unequal housing market that we have today.
Speaker 1: (06:44)
Why are traditionally black neighborhoods like Southeast San Diego becoming too expensive for some black renters? Well,
Speaker 2: (06:51)
When there's not enough homes either to buy or rent and the demand is high, that means prices are going to go up, including an areas that may have historically been more affordable. And as those prices go up, the very people that have always lived there and made up that community are finding themselves, priced out. Gabrielle, who we hear in my story is a renter who grew up in skyline, but left for Lamesa. And she actually told me, she knows a lot of people who are heading out to alcohol and other areas. She's actually considering moving out further herself to Riverside county and just commuting to her job in CUNY Mesa.
Speaker 1: (07:25)
Well, while black renters are facing the largest burden, it seems like no demographic and San Diego escapes an average rent burden of over 30%, has this situation gotten worse.
Speaker 2: (07:37)
It has in San Diego rents have gone up during the pandemic and every single racial demographic is more run burdened than they were before the pandemic. That's not the case in all cities, LA for instance, actually saw lower rents, but here in San Diego and places like New York and Sacramento, that's absolutely the case.
Speaker 1: (07:55)
And how has San Diego's rental assistance program helping struggling families with their rent burden?
Speaker 2: (08:02)
Well, as you know, there's the COVID-19 emergency rental help, but then of course, the city's always had rental assistance programs in the form of section eight vouchers, which is essentially rental help for people who can't afford rent. And in addition to that, there's project specific housing, as well as some federal public housing. But right now there's a waiting list that can take up to a decade. So in terms of assistance, there's way more emergency COVID-19 funds available than anything else. Um, the mayor's office did point out to recent investments in career development programs and small business grants aimed at communities of color. But those as I stay in this story take longer to take effect. So it's definitely tough right now.
Speaker 1: (08:43)
I've been speaking with KPBS race and equity reporter, Christina Kim, Christina. Thanks. Thanks Maureen.
Black renters are more rent burdened in San Diego than in anywhere else in the country, according to a new study by Zillow, an online real estate company.
Using a combination of Census data and Zillow’s Observed Rent Index, Zillow economists found that San Diego Black renters spend on average almost 53% of their income on rent.
A household is considered rent burdened when 30% of its income is spent on housing. By this metric, Black renters in San Diego aren’t just burdened, they are severely cost burdened.
“Honestly, it’s not surprising,” said Gabrielle Hines, who works as a school counselor in Kearny Mesa.
Hines is Black and grew up in the Skyline neighborhood of San Diego surrounded by family. She’s seen a lot of her family and neighbors pushed out of the neighborhood due to rising rents.
“It almost makes people feel like they're not good enough to live in the neighborhoods that they came from,” she said.
She recently moved to La Mesa with her husband and their three-year-old son. She found a deal on a three bedroom apartment for $1,800 that she couldn’t pass up.
Every other housing option she found in Skyline and other neighborhoods in Southeast San Diego were too expensive. She says all the three-bedroom apartments she looked at in the area cost $2,600 to $3,000.
Hines recently got a raise and makes $28 an hour after completing her Master’s degree. She estimates she and her husband, who's an electrician, make around $100,000 a year, which means they pay 22% of their income to rent. But they are still struggling.
“It doesn't feel like we’re actually making good money when the rent is so high,” she said. “It still feels like we are playing catch up on our bills and still living paycheck to paycheck.”
According to Zumper, an online rental marketplace, the average rent in San Diego is currently $2,195 a month. San Diego is expensive for renters across all demographics.
“We've seen that in San Diego, for example, the pandemic has increased the rent burden across households,” said Nancy Wu, the Zillow economist that led the research study.
Wu found that Latinos renters in San Diego pay on average 39% of their income on rent while Asian renters pay 33% and white renters pay 34%.
Still, Black renters are by far the most burdened by rent in San Diego. And they spend 18% more of their income on rent compared to Black households nationally.
“Affordability is the reason why we're seeing the biggest discrepancy in the biggest rent burden for Black renters in San Diego,” Wu said.
According to Wu, these inequities are a reflection of historic racial discrimination combined with low household incomes and rising rents. In other words, rents are high and wages are not catching up.
In a statement to KPBS, Mayor Todd Gloria said “the results of this study are infuriating, but not surprising” and added that his top priority as mayor is to “to ensure that all San Diegans have a roof over their head at price they can afford.”
Mayoral spokesman David Rolland said the city has already invested in rental assistance programs and launched several business and youth development programs aimed at San Diego’s communities of color.
But the outcomes of these solution-driven programs take time, and for now, renters like Hines are feeling the economic duress of being Black in San Diego.
“We're pretty stressed,” she said. “It feels like we're barely making it.”