Housing market

How one of California’s cheapest cities became unaffordable: ‘the housing market is broken’ – The Guardian

Summary

The mold in Martha Leon’s home has been there as long as she has. It grows in thick mottled patterns up the wall and around the windows, clinging to baseboards, the curtains, furniture and clothing.

But Leon and her family have struggled to leave their house in Fresno, California, even though she and her two children have developed asthma. There’s simply nowhere else they can afford.

Fresno is the largest city in the agr…….

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The mold in Martha Leon’s home has been there as long as she has. It grows in thick mottled patterns up the wall and around the windows, clinging to baseboards, the curtains, furniture and clothing.

But Leon and her family have struggled to leave their house in Fresno, California, even though she and her two children have developed asthma. There’s simply nowhere else they can afford.

Fresno is the largest city in the agricultural Central Valley, and has historically been one of the most affordable places to live in California. But during the pandemic, rents began to rise dramatically, climbing by 26% over 12 months.

Locals attribute the surge to people seeking to escape the high cost of living in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. But even as life returns to pre-pandemic norms, those who live here say the situation isn’t getting any better. Rents, which had been steadily climbing for years before the pandemic, are still rising and, coupled with a shortage of homes, that’s hitting low-income residents hardest.

“During Covid, Fresno and Central Valley rents just kept increasing,” said Jovana Morales-Tilgren, a housing policy coordinator with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. “Many people were struggling and are still struggling. Landlords keep raising rents and people have nowhere to go.”

With a median cost of $1,141 for a one-bedroom and $1,421 for a two-bedroom, Fresno rents are still below those of San Francisco or Los Angeles. But Fresno is among the most diverse cities in the US, and also one of the poorest. About 50% of households make less than $50,000 a year, while a quarter of residents are in poverty, according to US Census data.

Fifty per cent of Fresno’s population is Latino, and several residents told the Guardian they immigrated here decades ago from Mexico because of Fresno’s job opportunities and affordability – a reality that is quickly disappearing.

During Covid, Fresno and Central Valley rents just kept increasing. Many people were struggling and are still struggling. Landlords keep raising rents and people have nowhere to go

Jovana Morales-Tilgren, a housing policy coordinator

“In places like Fresno you have really high rates of poverty and a significant share of people who have really low incomes,” said Carolina Reid, a faculty research adviser with the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation. “The labor market in Fresno is not catching up to the price of housing.”

The situation has left families with few options, forcing them to stay in substandard housing, move in with other family members or even leave Fresno entirely, Morales-Tilgren said.

The Leons have been looking for a new place …….

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/06/fresno-housing-prices-rent-california