Needle in a Haystack – Sacramento Area’s Lack of Inexpensive Rental Housing

Sacramento, CA — Searching for an affordable place to rent in Sacramento County is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Individuals and families end up vying for limited slots just to find a place to live.

Sacramento is supposed to be the capital of the Golden State and golden indeed is an apt word to describe rates when it comes to renting an abode. Subsidized housing has become such a rare commodity that 50,000 potential tenants had to compete for 3,000 slots.

In El Dorado Hills, some tenants had to wait for 2 years just to get into a subsidized housing complex. That’s how bad the problem is when it comes to affordable rental housing in the Sacramento area.

By next year, applicants hoping to get into low-income housing will have a 1:300 chance of obtaining a place to live in because there will only be a few housing projects that will cate to low-income group.

Doug Shoemaker who is a non-profit developer for low-income housing and president of the Mercy Housing California stated that, “It’s terrible. It’s an awful way to run a society.”

Ever since the housing bubble burst which affected California’s economy, there has been an increase in demand for rental housing that is affordable and/or subsidized but unfortunately, the supply is unable to meet the supply.

Nowadays, people are unable to afford mortgage or buy homes either because of poor income or credit score and stricter rules when it comes to availing a housing loan. Residents are forced to scrimp on their budgets because most of their earnings go to utilities and rent. More less 250,000 people are trapped in this kind of situation.

With the abolishment of the redevelopment agencies by Gov. Jerry Brown, cities and municipalities lost an additional source of income. This further aggravated the problem in constructing “below-market” rental housing because developers and local governments are unable to afford the costs of building such projects without the subsidy being provided the redevelopment agencies, which is in the area of $25 million.

There are about 89,000 Sacramento area families who more or less spends $1,100 a month in rent and utilities. The average income for these families is just $17,000 monthly leaving them with almost no money left for other necessities. If these families had been able to get into an affordable housing program or a subsidized rental housing program, the costs of rent and utilities will just be in the area of $315. They would be able to enjoy life a little bit more with the savings.

There was a time when the Great American Dream was to own a house, a car and a dog; nowadays, it’s to be able to find a place to rent that is affordable and would not consume more than half your monthly salary. That is the effect of the foreclosure crisis that had hit California.

With no subsidies and the courts questioning the ordinances that govern “inclusionary housing” (these are ordinances that require a developer to construct affordable, low-income housing alongside regular housing); affordable rental housing will probably end up in the endangered list forcing more people into hardship to keep up with their rent payments and utility bills. Everyone could end up filing for bankruptcy.

“Home, home on the range
Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam
And the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day”

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