Rents rising faster in SLO County than anywhere else in California, data show

The cost to rent a two-bedroom home has risen more in San Luis Obispo County than anywhere else in the state over the last four years — up more than 50 percent since 2013, according to recent data.

As of December, residents here were now paying a median rent of $2,200 for a two-bedroom home, up from $1,429 in 2013, according to tracking firm Zillow.com.

Although the county’s increase led the state, rental costs are rising rapidly across California, eating up wage gains from a growing economy, forcing thousands to endure long commutes and contributing to an increase in homelessness.

Median rent for a California two-bedroom condo or home — meaning half of renters were paying more and half were paying less — rose from about $1,740 in December 2013 to about $2,300 in December 2017, a 32 percent jump, according to Zillow.com.

By comparison, median rent for a two-bedroom unit nationwide was about $1,290 in December 2017, up 14 percent from 2013.

All California counties saw rent increases during the last four years, Zillow.com data show. Other counties with large increases include Santa Cruz, Alameda, San Benito, Sonoma, Amador, El Dorado and Stanislaus, which all saw rents rise by at least 40 percent during that period.

John Fowler, president of Peoples’ Self-Help Housing in SLO County, said his housing nonprofit has seen more people apply to be on a waiting list for units in the affordable developments the organization builds. He said rents have been on the rise since the Great Recession ended, which has resulted in tenants being displaced from their homes.

“People are coming to us every day saying their rents are going up $300 to $500 a month,” he said.

Mike Manchak, president of the Economic Vitality Corp. of San Luis Obispo County, said median incomes have not kept pace with housing costs, a problem made worse by underemployment — people who are working at jobs they’re over-qualified for or who work part-time because the labor market is so tight.

“There’s this outward migration from California because of that — because of the cost of living,” he said.

The data show how much rents vary across California.

Median rent for a two-bedroom unit in San Francisco, for example, is now almost $4,200. (A mortgage payment of that amount could pay for a home that costs roughly $800,000).

Meanwhile, rent for a two-bedroom in Kings County is just below $900.

The California Legislature is considering a number of bills to address rent increases, including measures to stimulate multifamily housing construction and to expand the number of housing units potentially covered by rent control laws.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden

Phillip Reese is The Bee’s data specialist and teaches at Sacramento State. Reach him at 916-321-1137 or 916-278-5420.

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