Berkeley rated 8th highest rent in Bay Area

Jihoon Park/Staff

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Berkeley ranked eighth for highest rent of 30 Bay Area cities analyzed in a study by Zumper, a rental listing website.

Zumper’s SF Bay Area Metro Report analyzed listings in 30 metropolitan cities to reveal the cities with the highest and lowest rents, as well as cities with the fastest rising rents, according to its website.

Campus senior Farryl Lawson attested to the difficulty of finding affordable apartments in Berkeley.

“I know a lot of people that struggle to find housing — good, clean housing too,” Lawson said. “People just kind of live anywhere at this campus.”

According to campus urban economics lecturer Joseph Lough, the high cost of rent is due to a combination of the booming tech industry and the presence of the university.

“Investors are willing to pay a lot of money to get the best research, which is why they invest in firms that are located in the Bay Area,” Lough said. “Because that’s the case, the employees of tech companies are willing to pay top dollar for property.”

According to Lough, living near universities also drives up the cost of rent, which is the case in Berkeley, where students, a “captive audience,” often live close by campus. “Owners of property know that students are willing to pay higher rent for those properties,” Lough said.

He added that as university tuition rises, it continues to attract higher-income students with parents who are willing to pay higher prices for rent.

The city, the university and independent organizations are all taking steps to address the housing issue with varying levels of success.

Greg Magofna, co-executive and co-founder of East Bay Forward, a housing advocacy group with the motto “Housing for all,” stressed that, despite the city’s investment in affordable housing for low-income individuals, landlords often do not accept Section 8 vouchers, a voucher program that pays the balance of rent exceeding 30 percent of a renter’s monthly income.

In addition, the metrics required for government-sanctioned affordable housing often don’t apply to undergraduate students, according to Magofna.

“The conversation needs to not be about (government-sanctioned) affordable housing, but about housing that is affordable,” Magofna said.

According to Magofna, the university doesn’t have the funds to build its own housing developments and instead partners with private developers to create more affordable housing for students.

Organizations such as the Berkeley Tenants Union and East Bay Forward strive to advocate for affordable housing at a grassroots level. According to Magofna, East Bay Forward helps educate people about the housing market and advocates for projects in areas where they believe housing should be built.

“(Berkeley students are) stressed out about so much other stuff,” Lawson said. “We don’t want to be stressed about where we lay our head at night.”

Contact Jasmine Tatah at [email protected].