Table of Contents
Impacts of Increased Cost of Living and Housing Costs
Affordable Housing and Cost of Living
With the average home price hovering near $1 million and the average apartment renting for more than $2,700 a month, many San Diegans struggle simply to keep a roof over their heads. And the problem is only getting worse: San Diego rents in 2022 are up by 18.84% compared to 2021.
A person working a full-time minimum job makes $2,600/month before taxes. Yet, the average cost of a studio apartment in San Diego is $2,000/month.
This means they would be spending 77% of their gross income on housing alone.
According to the National University System Institute for Policy Research, approximately 28% of the San Diego workforce over the age of 15 earns the equivalent of a full-time minimum wage salary or less.
That’s a significant portion of the population. Additionally, disabled people living on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) receive an average of $1,000/month. According to RentCafe, only 1% of apartments rent for less than $1,000/month in San Diego.
Unfortunately, our low-income neighbors are becoming even more squeezed by the rising costs of inflation as well. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that April 2022 consumer prices are up 7.9 percent from a year ago. There are more and more individuals and families entering into dire situations where they are forced to make decisions between critical line items: Food or housing, gas or healthcare.
The cost of housing is largely driven by the competitive nature of the current rental and housing market: limited supply, high demand and low vacancy rates. Vacancies in housing are rare, considering the occupancy rate for stabilized apartment complexes is 97.6% in 2022.
For every listing on the market there are approximately 29 people competing for the rental.
So, if an individual or a family loses their housing for one reason or another–their lease ends, their rent increases outside of their budget, or the property manager plans to renovate–they can have a matter of a month to find a home they can afford in a very competitive market. In this scenario, it’s easy to imagine how one can become homeless.
Given all of this, it is not surprising that a recent study found that a lack of affordable housing was the single strongest predictor of rates of homelessness in a given community.
Build More Affordable Housing
The most critical way to alleviate the pressure of rising rents on low-income San Diegans is to build more affordable housing options in the community. In 2017, Father Joe’s Villages announced the Turning the Key Initiative to expand on its existing portfolio of housing and build 2,000 additional units of affordable housing in San Diego.
In 2020-2022, Father Joe’s Villages opened both Benson Place and Saint Teresa of Calcutta Villa communities—offering nearly 500 affordable housing units combined. Now, Father Joe’s Villages has over 300 units in the development pipeline, on top of the nearly 900 affordable and supportive housing units it already offers in the community.
Streamline Construction and Funding for Affordable Housing
Our policymakers must address limits to building housing in the first place — such as simplifying the funding process for affordable housing developments or alleviating the red tape erected for developers to build much-needed high-density housing.
A streamlined permitting and funding process will make it easier, faster and less costly for our region to meet demand for housing.
Subsidies for Seniors
In September 2021, Serving Seniors released a report titled Senior Homelessness: A Needs Assessment. In the report, Serving Seniors found that “more than half (56%) of those interviewed report an additional $300 or less of monthly income would increase their rent security.”
Ultimately, Serving Seniors suggested the expansion of shallow-subsidy programs and the establishment of a permanent financial subsidy program for older adults.
Shallow-subsidies divert current federal reimbursement funds for emergency shelter beds toward stipends that keep seniors in existing housing and divert them from the shelter system.
This would result in approximately $375 per month to help seniors with rising costs and keep them from ending up on the streets.
How Can I Help?
As has been described, our neighbors are facing enough barriers – whether it’s housing, healthcare, substance use, or mental illness. That’s why we as a community must create opportunities.
However, Father Joe’s Villages can’t do this alone.
It takes the collective will of a community to create the systems and opportunities necessary to help each and every person out of homelessness. It takes all of us to expand programs and services so that each and every person can find solutions tailored to their specific situation.
Together, we can envision and create a better tomorrow where each San Diegan can say with assurance: Hope Lives Here.