Since the end of the Great Recession, California’s Bay Area counties have seen the highest rent increases in the state. For example, in Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, the fair market rent for studios, one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom housing units increased by more than 30 percent between 2009 and 2016, according to the latest data on Kidsdata.
Larger, family-sized housing units saw the greatest increases. In Alameda and Contra Costa counties, for example, three-bedroom housing units saw higher rent hikes than any other size unit. In Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties, four-bedroom housing units saw the highest rent hikes. In those counties, the fair market rent for a four-bedroom housing unit rose by 52 percent, from $2,339 in 2009 to $3,556 in 2016.
Stable, affordable, quality housing is linked to positive health outcomes for children. Families that spend more than half of their income on housing tend to spend much less than other families on essential items, such as food and health care. In some cases, a lack of affordable housing can result in families living in crowded households. Residential crowding may be linked to the prevalence of certain infectious diseases, poor educational attainment, and psychological distress, among other potential adverse effects.
Policy options that could improve housing affordability and promote the well being of children include preserving and increasing the availability of affordable housing, expanding housing trust funds, housing bonds, and California’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and reducing administrative barriers to receiving rental assistance.