SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) A new housing report highlights how the rising cost of living is pushing low-income families away from the Monterey Bay Area.
The report, written by the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, found that to pay an average rent in Santa Cruz County, tenants must earn $48.08 per hour. That’s more than three times the state minimum wage.
“We simply haven’t produced the variety and quantity of units we need to house people in our community, at all income levels, for decades now,” said program manager Alyssa Kroeger. housing for the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership.
With the lack of available units, the average rent in Santa Cruz County is now $2,500 per month, an increase of 15% from 2020 to 2021. But according to the report, state and federal funding for production housing in the county is actually down 48% from the previous year, now at 19 million.
The story isn’t much better across the rest of the Central Coast. The report also found that renters must earn $27.77 per hour to pay average rent in San Benito County and $36.50 per hour in Monterey County.
“Even if you have an above-moderate income, there just aren’t a lot of options. Especially for low-income people,” Kroeger said. “Especially essential workers. Low-income staff in the area often have to move regularly to find affordable housing as rent continues to rise.”
Josephine Birmingham works at McDonald’s across from Window on the Bay Park in Monterey.
“I live in a shelter. I work to save my money, so I can find a place or an apartment,” Birmingham said.
But it’s not just the rent. Gas is also at an all-time high, and a new government report shows grocery prices have jumped nearly 11% in the past year, the biggest 12-month increase since 1980.
“You really need a roof over your head before you can worry about, you know, what job you’re going to get, what health care you can get, what school you’re going to be able to go to. your kids. . So that’s just the foundation for all the other successes we can find in life,” Kroeger said.
“In Monterey County, there’s a growing effort around employer-sponsored housing,” Kroeger said. “We have a very large hospitality industry and a lot of agricultural workers in the county and they’re struggling to get by. They’re struggling to find housing. They have to work more than one job at a time to just make Workforce housing is therefore a very good way for Monterey County to move forward in solving our housing affordability crisis.
Construction of a mixed-use housing project in downtown Hollister called “The Epicenter” is also in progress.
“So in the coming year we’ll have a really nice mixed-use project as an example for San Benito County in downtown Hollister, right in the heart of where a lot of people live, work and are studying,” Kroeger added.
But the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership says to meet demand, more than 33,000 additional units will be needed in the region by 2030.
“At this time we are at the start of our 6th cycle housing element process, which is a unique opportunity for all of us to engage in the planning process for our cities and counties to identify the type of housing what we need for the community who lives here now and what type of housing we need for the community who will live here in the future and how we start to determine where the appropriate sites are to build that housing so that we can meet the demand that we really need,” said Kroeger.
The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership holds workshops in May, which is also Affordable Housing Month. You can find more information on how and when you can participate here.
For those who need affordable housing now, Kroeger says the best place to start is to call 2-1-1 or contact your local United Way.
“Whether it’s being put on a waiting list for a housing choice voucher or being added to a waiting list for project-based Section 8 housing and just determining what projects are underway,” Kroeger said. “There are many different options, and United Way here in Monterey County is a great way to get those processes started.”