Rents Blog: Daysog's data
Rents Blog: Daysog's data
Last fall, the City Council passed on a proposal to create a city-sponsored rents task force whose charge would have included collecting data on the Island’s rental market. So City Councilman Tony Daysog, who had favored the task force proposal, decided to collect some of that information on his own.
Daysog offered a brief presentation on U.S. Census data he culled at the council’s January 20 meeting, where council members considered some options for strengthening rights for renters. The upshot: While the median rent in Alameda falls below what the federal government considers unaffordable, it’s rising – as is the proportion of local renters who are paying unaffordable rents.
“There's a certain elegance in the way the data on paper reflects what's happening in Alameda in 3D,” Daysog said this week.
On January 20, Daysog said he didn’t think the data spoke to a need for rent control, but that efforts to strengthen the city’s Rent Review Advisory Committee, which mediates rent disputes, should be considered, along with more money for ECHO Housing, a countywide agency that helps renters and landlords settle disputes.
“The data don’t speak to a generalized approach to the rent issue,” he said. “But I think there is enough there to say we do need very particular case by case solutions.”
Alameda has seen a dramatic rise in the number of renters it houses – and an equally dramatic decline in their incomes in the wake of the 2008 recession.
According to American Community Survey data, the number of renter households in Alameda rose from 14,726 in the pre-recession period of 2005 to 2007 to 15,894 in the 2011 to 2013 post-recession recovery period. Renter households’ median annual incomes declined by nearly $8,000 over that same period, from $59,653 in 2005-07 to $51,712 in the 2011-13 time frame.
Daysog collected and reported the data in three-year time periods because the American Community Survey only collects data from a small sample of Alamedans each year, which makes it less reliable on an annual basis. While the data don’t really provide a clear snapshot of local rent and income trends in any given year, the do offer a sense of trends over time.
In contrast, incomes for the Island’s homeowners are twice as high has those of renters, and they rose during the time periods Daysog studied. The median household income for Alameda’s homeowners rose from $109,817 in the 2005 to 2007 time frame to $113,315 between 2011 and 2013, Daysog found.
“Someone mentioned a rent increase of $450 a month,” Daysog said to renters and property owners who attended the January 20 meeting. “You can imagine when you annualize the monthly rent increase, for renters, how that really draws down on persons’ constrained incomes.”
The median renter paid 29.4 percent of their income for gross rent in the 2011-13 time frame, Daysog found, an amount that includes contract rent and utilities; more than 30 percent is considered unaffordable. That, Daysog said, is a sign that the typical Alameda renter has affordable rent.
Still, the data show at least one sign that could be changing: The percentage of renters who were paying more than 30 percent of their incomes toward rent rose over the three time periods, from 39 percent to 46 percent.
But Daysog said renters’ relative lack of income was the key point. According to the Insight Center for Community Economic Development in Oakland, a single adult with one child needs to earn $55,725 to be self-sufficient. A single adult with two children needs to earn $66,326.
“That kind of underscores even more how just a slight change in the rent upwards disproportionately affects renters,” Daysog said.
Daysog said he collected the data because he wanted to get a sense of what renters’ experience has been in Alameda. In his presentation to the council, he listed objectives that included quantifying unaffordable housing trends and comparing them over time and also, comparing what’s happening here on the Island to neighboring communities (data for Oakland, San Leandro and Alameda County are included in the presentation).
While he’s not supporting rent control, Daysog did ask his dais-mates to consider increasing the city’s business license fee to provide money for both the committee and ECHO Housing, but council members didn’t vote to support it.
The council did vote to move forward with efforts to strengthen the rents committee and boost awareness of it and also, to collect more data about the rental market here and in neighboring communities (Daysog abstained from the vote).
“I am most interested in dedicating more funding especially to ECHO to be able to adequately handle to increased workload that will come its way given the heightened attention of the plight of renters in Alameda, and am open to any number of ways to accomplish this,” Daysog said.
Extra: Daysog’s presentation is attached at the bottom of this story.