A poll conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies showed that 51 percent of voters living in the San Francisco Bay Area have considered moving due to the rising cost of housing.
The poll also showed that out of those considering moving, 25 percent would relocate out of state.
Sixty-five percent of voters in the Bay Area feel that housing affordability is an “extremely serious” issue, according to the poll. Of all the regions polled for this question, the Bay Area saw affordable housing as the most serious issue, compared to 42 percent in Los Angeles County and 38 percent in the Central Valley.
Berkeley Housing Advisory Commission Chair Igor Tregub said there is an enormous and growing imbalance between jobs and housing in the Bay Area. The amount of available jobs has increased, while housing has not, Tregub said.
According to Terrie Light, executive director of Berkeley Food and Housing Project, the issue of affordable housing in the Bay Area is not new, it is just “way worse.”
“It has always been pricey, but this is at a level I have never seen before,” Light said.
BFHP is an organization that provides free meal service, temporary and permanent shelter and case management services for people in need. The project serves approximately 2,000 homeless people each year.
Light noted that there is a difference between those who have no source of income and cannot afford housing, and those who have an income but still can’t afford housing where they live. Although she said finding affordable housing is “particularly awful” for homeless people, she added that it is becoming similarly difficult for working people.
Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington noted that the percentage of Bay Area residents who saw affordable housing as an issue was “amazingly high.”
“I firmly understand this is a very serious problem and I am coming up with solutions,” Worthington said.
The state recently passed a package of bills to address the statewide housing crisis. Fifty-one percent of voters said they would support the construction of more low-income housing in California, according to the poll.
According to Worthington, one of his solutions would be to build more housing units for UC Berkeley students that are close to campus. He said the increase of students attending UC Berkeley in recent years has caused more competition for housing, which has driven rent prices up. Worthington said he thinks that, by building more housing units, high housing prices could be minimized.
Worthington said the campus has taken several steps forward to address this issue with a new housing unit currently under construction, and that the city of Berkeley should do the same.
Berkeley, Richmond and San Francisco now have rent control, which protects tenants “somewhat,” Worthington said. He added that rent control ensures that tenant’s rent does not jump astronomically.
According to the poll, 63 percent of Bay Area residents “favor” local rent control laws.
New legislation may also help solve the housing affordability issue. Tregub pointed to Measure U1, which was overwhelming approved by voters in November 2016. The measure promises to provide $4 million a year of new revenue that will be used to create and invest in existing affordable housing in Berkeley. Measure U1 will begin to take effect in 2018.
“We’re facing a housing affordability crisis of unprecedented conditions,” Tregub said. “We’re seeing study after study that continues to indicate the existential crisis that an increasing number of Bay Area residents find themselves in.”