Housing meant for the Bay Area’s poorest residents is slowly vanishing


As Bay Area communities struggle to build enough housing for their poorest residents, one factor keeps threatening their progress: the affordable housing they already have is slowing disappearing.

The five-county Bay Area has lost 2,128 subsidized affordable homes since 1997, according to a report released Tuesday by the California Housing Partnership. Another 5,128 homes — or 5 percent of the region’s existing affordable housing stock — are at risk of becoming too expensive for their low-income tenants.

As the Bay Area grapples with an affordable housing shortage, the slow drain of its existing low-cost units is undermining efforts by local governments, developers and nonprofits to house the state’s poorest residents. Developers essentially are pouring water into a leaky bucket: as they build new units, older units fall out of the supply when their government contracts expire and landlords sell the buildings or convert them to market rate rents.

“In some communities, these homes are some of the last homes where low-income people, particularly low-income people of color, can remain as the pressures of gentrification have increased,” said Matt Schwartz, California Housing Partnership president and CEO.

Bay Area rental prices have climbed to staggering heights over the past few years, forcing low and moderate-income residents to move farther from job hubs in search of cheaper housing. An average apartment rents for $2,870 in Santa Clara County, and for $2,613 in Alameda County, according to RentCafe.

The state and federal government offer subsidies to landlords who agree to rent their properties at discounted rates to families making less than the area’s median income. But those deals typically come with an expiration date. Landlords who work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, generally sign 20-year contracts. During that time, low-income tenants pay up to 30 percent of their wages, and the federal government …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

      

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