San Mateo County remains one of the nation's least affordable rental markets, according to a new nationwide study that determines how much money a household must earn to afford to rent a modest home, is echoing that blogger's sentiment with facts and figures.
Compiled by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the data in "Out of Reach" reports that a San Mateo County worker would need to earn $34.52 an hour, or nearly $72,000 annually, to afford the rent for a typical two-bedroom apartment in the County, putting it out of reach for 57 percent of the renting population.
"This report comes on the heels of similar data recently released by the County of San Mateo citing the average [local] rent for a one-bedroom apartment as $1,925 a month, putting it out of reach for most teachers, home health aids, bank tellers, and so many others," said Kate Comfort Harr, executive director of HIP (Human Investment Project) Housing.
"Even more alarming - a hard-working minimum wage earner would have to work 173 hours per week to afford this rent," she added. "There literally are not enough hours in the week for them."
According to HIP Housing, the San Mateo County rental situation has been exacerbated by the extremely low inventory of affordable housing units and the loss of Redevelopment Agencies (RDAs) statewide, which had previously been one of the largest funders of affordable housing construction in the county.
HIP Housing's Home Sharing Program provides assistance for those in San Mateo County with few affordable housing options. The program matches those who have space in their home with those who need an affordable place to live.
With average rents around $700, the program creates a win-win for both home providers and home seekers. Providers gain additional income, companionship and help with household chores, while seekers avoid homelessness and are able to remain in the community where they work and often grew up.
By utilizing existing housing stock in this way, the program provides an innovative solution to creating new affordable housing opportunities in San Mateo County, said Clarice Veloso, HIP Housing's development director.
"In the last six months, we have seen an 11-percent increase in calls from those in need of an affordable place to live, and a 30-percent increase from those at risk of homelessness," said Harr. "For every one home provider, there are currently six seekers - one of the highest ratios we've ever seen in our program."
"The program makes good common sense, and with our 40-year history, we have a lot of expertise," Harr continued.
Lucille Camuso, a HIP Housing home provider, explained, "I lost my job two years ago, and my unemployment ran out a year-and-a-half later. I was starting to have difficulty making my mortgage payments when I decided to come to HIP Housing for help," said Camuso. "HIP Housing matched me with my housemate, Michel, who himself was going through a tough time after he had lost his home to a short sale."
"Having the extra income has reduced both of our financial stress," Camuso added. "Home sharing is helping us through these hard times."