Rising housing prices disproportionately affect low-income people of color, report finds

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Ethan Epstein/File

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The California Housing Partnership Corporation, or CHPC, and the Urban Displacement Project published a report Wednesday showing that rising housing prices in the Bay Area disproportionately affect low-income people of color.

According to the report, Richmond, the Bayview neighborhood in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley lost thousands of low-income Black households between 2000 and 2015. Rising housing costs and migration patterns have led to new concentrations of segregation and poverty in the Bay Area, according to the report.

“The implications are that the housing crisis has a disproportionate impact on people of color and that policy solutions should reflect that,” said CHPC Senior Policy Analyst Dan Rinzler. “If we do not take affirmative steps to address racial disparities, we’re just going to see a resegregation, which has been a trend over the last 15 years.”

The report shows that low-income households of color were much more susceptible than low-income white households to the increasing cost of housing. Rinzler said that according to the data, a 30 percent tract-level increase in median rent was associated with a 21 percent decrease in low-income households of color — but no change in low-income white households.

Low-income households that made any kind of move in 2015 paid a higher share of their income in rent, the report finds. According to Rinzler, the high cost of displacement suggests that helping people remain in place may be a cost-saving strategy. Housing prices are increasing almost everywhere, leaving few cheap options for Bay Area residents, Rinzler said.

“I don’t think the report says anything shocking or new,” said Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “Having an official report that documents the patterns by specifically talking to a whole bunch of people who were affected by this … provides academic validation that these things that appear to be true really are actually, statistically true.”

Philip Verma, graduate student researcher at the Urban Displacement Project, said the report serves as a tool for community and advocacy groups that work on housing and displacement issues in the Bay Area. He said the data helps back up claims about the correlation between rising housing prices and resegregation.

Rinzler pointed to more investment in affordable housing as a potential solution to rising housing costs, especially in neighborhoods that are at the highest risk of displacement.

Rinzler and Verma said CHPC and the Urban Displacement Project hope to release a regional report in the coming months.

“The longstanding patterns of segregation that have existed in the U.S. and Bay Area are continuing, but also reforming in new places and new ways,” Verma said. “We’re highlighting the importance of thinking about history and neighborhood when we think about solution. Not every solution works in every place.”

Contact Katherine Kemp and Jenny Weng at [email protected].