News

High rents drive demand for home-sharing

By Barbara Wood

Special to the Almanac

Anyone who has tried to find a rental on the Midpeninsula recently knows that rents seem higher than ever locally -- a fact confirmed by a recent study that found San Mateo County to be the third most expensive rental market in the country.

The study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that only Nantucket County in Massachusetts and Honolulu County in Hawaii have more expensive rents, based on the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's annual study of fair market rate rents.

The Low Income Housing Coalition study found that a yearly income of $72,000 is necessary to afford the $1,795 rent for a typical two-bedroom apartment in the county without spending more than 30 percent of income on rent.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Almanac Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

Other studies show rents in the county are even higher, according to Kate Comfort Harr, executive director of the nonprofit HIP (Human Investment Project) Housing, which works on providing affordable housing options. "Data recently released by the County of San Mateo cites the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Mateo County as $1,925 a month, putting it out of reach for most teachers, home health aides, bank tellers and so many others," said Ms. Harr.

It would take, she said, 173 hours a week of minimum wage work to afford this rent. "There literally are not enough hours in the week," she said.

Ms. Harr said the situation has been made worse by the extremely low number of affordable housing units and the loss of redevelopment agencies, which had been one of the main sources of funds for affordable housing construction in the county.

HIP Housing, which receives funding from local city and town governments, runs a Home Sharing program that matches those who have space in their homes with those who need an affordable place to live.

Joe Karnicky, a 69-year-old retired engineer who has owned a home in North Fair Oaks since 1978, is currently using HIP Housing to help him find a roommate for the fourth time.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Mr. Karnicky, who has a progressive form of multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, said he likes having someone else living in his home in case he needs an extra hand. He also has an attendant who comes in twice a day to help him in and out of bed.

"It allows me to keep on living here," he said.

His current roommate, who has lived with Mr. Karnicky for seven years, has been able to save enough in rent money during that time to now buy a home in Santa Clarita with his son.

"I'm going to take my time finding a replacement," Mr. Karnicky said.

Mr. Karnicky said he is pleased with the HIP Housing process, which requires both the person seeking a renter and those who want to rent to fill out extensive forms used to match up roommates. "It actually has worked out really well for me," Mr. Karnicky said.

HIP Housing Development Director Clarice Veloso said that rents in the home-sharing program average around $700, creating "a win-win for both home providers and home seekers."

"In the last 6 months, we have seen an 11 percent increase in calls from those in need of an affordable place to live and a 30 percent increase from those at risk of homelessness," said Ms. Comfort Harr.

She said that for every person seeking a renter, there are six people in search of a place to rent, "one of the highest ratios we've ever seen in our program." The program has been in place for 40 years.

According to Ms. Veloso, in the 2012-13 fiscal year, HIP Housing received a total of $25,775 in grant funds from Woodside, Portola Valley, Atherton and Menlo Park. The city of Menlo Park also helped finance an affordable housing project with HIP at 1157-1161 Willow Road.

Visit HIPHousing.org for more information.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

High rents drive demand for home-sharing

Uploaded: Thu, Mar 28, 2013, 8:29 pm

By Barbara Wood

Special to the Almanac

Anyone who has tried to find a rental on the Midpeninsula recently knows that rents seem higher than ever locally -- a fact confirmed by a recent study that found San Mateo County to be the third most expensive rental market in the country.

The study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that only Nantucket County in Massachusetts and Honolulu County in Hawaii have more expensive rents, based on the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's annual study of fair market rate rents.

The Low Income Housing Coalition study found that a yearly income of $72,000 is necessary to afford the $1,795 rent for a typical two-bedroom apartment in the county without spending more than 30 percent of income on rent.

Other studies show rents in the county are even higher, according to Kate Comfort Harr, executive director of the nonprofit HIP (Human Investment Project) Housing, which works on providing affordable housing options. "Data recently released by the County of San Mateo cites the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Mateo County as $1,925 a month, putting it out of reach for most teachers, home health aides, bank tellers and so many others," said Ms. Harr.

It would take, she said, 173 hours a week of minimum wage work to afford this rent. "There literally are not enough hours in the week," she said.

Ms. Harr said the situation has been made worse by the extremely low number of affordable housing units and the loss of redevelopment agencies, which had been one of the main sources of funds for affordable housing construction in the county.

HIP Housing, which receives funding from local city and town governments, runs a Home Sharing program that matches those who have space in their homes with those who need an affordable place to live.

Joe Karnicky, a 69-year-old retired engineer who has owned a home in North Fair Oaks since 1978, is currently using HIP Housing to help him find a roommate for the fourth time.

Mr. Karnicky, who has a progressive form of multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, said he likes having someone else living in his home in case he needs an extra hand. He also has an attendant who comes in twice a day to help him in and out of bed.

"It allows me to keep on living here," he said.

His current roommate, who has lived with Mr. Karnicky for seven years, has been able to save enough in rent money during that time to now buy a home in Santa Clarita with his son.

"I'm going to take my time finding a replacement," Mr. Karnicky said.

Mr. Karnicky said he is pleased with the HIP Housing process, which requires both the person seeking a renter and those who want to rent to fill out extensive forms used to match up roommates. "It actually has worked out really well for me," Mr. Karnicky said.

HIP Housing Development Director Clarice Veloso said that rents in the home-sharing program average around $700, creating "a win-win for both home providers and home seekers."

"In the last 6 months, we have seen an 11 percent increase in calls from those in need of an affordable place to live and a 30 percent increase from those at risk of homelessness," said Ms. Comfort Harr.

She said that for every person seeking a renter, there are six people in search of a place to rent, "one of the highest ratios we've ever seen in our program." The program has been in place for 40 years.

According to Ms. Veloso, in the 2012-13 fiscal year, HIP Housing received a total of $25,775 in grant funds from Woodside, Portola Valley, Atherton and Menlo Park. The city of Menlo Park also helped finance an affordable housing project with HIP at 1157-1161 Willow Road.

Visit HIPHousing.org for more information.

Comments

Don
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 29, 2013 at 8:58 am
Don, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 29, 2013 at 8:58 am
Like this comment

Sad, really sad.


Ethan
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm
Ethan, Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm
Like this comment

Bubble, bubble.


Caldron Annie
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 29, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Caldron Annie, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 29, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Like this comment

Toil and trouble ...


Real Estate Guy
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm
Real Estate Guy, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm
Like this comment

Where will it all end - Multi Million Dollar Homes - sky high rents. where will the "basic" workforce come from in the future?
Do you really think that those working at low paying jobs will commute an hour or two,to the Peninsula just to work.
It is almost becoming a utopia society....Having grown up here it is sad to see.


Joshua Hugg
another community
on Mar 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm
Joshua Hugg, another community
on Mar 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm
Like this comment

Please consider signing our petition to preserve the affordable housing funds that was lost when redevelopment went away. It is a first step in bringing more affordable housing into our communities.

Web Link


Phil
Atherton: other
on Mar 30, 2013 at 6:59 am
Phil, Atherton: other
on Mar 30, 2013 at 6:59 am
Like this comment

This should be a wake up call to San Mateo County that tax dollars are being lost due to over crowded and blighted areas since the county's official policy is "over crowding is not a priority".

Clean up the blight, makes neighborhoods more safe and attractive, which increases the tax base to build more affordable housing. But balance it with lower density units. Like it or not, our area doesn't don't have freezing temps, snow or crippling heat, all attractive features.


Lorraine
another community
on Mar 30, 2013 at 11:47 am
Lorraine, another community
on Mar 30, 2013 at 11:47 am
Like this comment

Its just that the landlords are so greedy,, no other reason than they get away with it.. We pay $3,000 a month for a creepy 2 bedroom..
We can't move, the cost of the move is too much. My boyfriends job is so specialized we have to stay in this area to have one rotten pay check since I dont have a job,, They are requiring women to have Batchelors degrees to answer phones now and bi-lingual is a must for any low paying job.. INSANE>>>
This apartment would be $575 per month in Texas or most other states.
Only here do we get punished to live in a rental, so how can the poor save to buy a house???? They can't. Even with my boyfriends Phd job we will never be able to save for a down payment.


Garrett
another community
on Mar 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm
Garrett, another community
on Mar 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm
Like this comment

You can live in Redwood City, can live within your means, or I love this you don't need to live here.

Guess we are need to live in worker villages, come here work and stay in a dorm.

I feel bad for the children who live here, who will end up having to move away in the end.


Housing advocate.
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 1, 2013 at 10:23 am
Housing advocate., Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 1, 2013 at 10:23 am
Like this comment

This is just spin by the aforementioned Low Income Housing Advocates - the same fine folks who sued Menlo Park and whose legal expenses were repaid by the city. This article (or press release) is intended spin public opinion their way. The reality, though is that this isn't a new problem. New immigrants for 200 years have faced the same challenges, and always survive, without the public subsidy. My grandparents did it as well.

I am afraid that there is an agenda by the state, ABAG and these folks - all unelected officials, to create housing for 2 Million people in the bay area, and peninsula in particular.

Push back like Palo Alto.


Old MP
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 1, 2013 at 3:32 pm
Old MP, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 1, 2013 at 3:32 pm
Like this comment

@ J. Hugg. No way. No money, no way.

Further - look at all of the abuse of development funds by so many cities. Start with Oakland.

My tax (increase) dollars are not going there again.


Long term renter
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 1, 2013 at 6:42 pm
Long term renter, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 1, 2013 at 6:42 pm
Like this comment

It is greedy landlords. They charge what the market will bear, and since so much green space is off-limits for development, there is little entry level housing within commute distance. Legacy apt owners are making a killing!! I'd probably do the same if I had been so blessed....

That said, in every major metro area most people have roommates. Living by yourself is a luxury. Share an apt like everyone else. Don't live above your means.




renter
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 1, 2013 at 6:51 pm
renter, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 1, 2013 at 6:51 pm
Like this comment

If a typical 2 bed apt is $1,795, then surely most people can allocate $900 a month to share an apt? (I know there are exceptions, such as those living on SS, or with families and no partner).

I don't believe the math on the $72,000 annual income quote in the article. $36,000 a year per person equates to $17.80 per hour wage, which is roughly what most housekeepers and Nannies get in the peninsula. $15-20 per hour is normal, and then they pay no income taxes.

$900 a month to share an apt is reasonable. Landlords charging $4000 for a 2 bedroom apt are greedy. Certainly no possibility of said family affording one parent to stay home, and likely all income goes to day care.

Tough to live around here without lots of family support.


Menlo Voter
Menlo Park: other
on Apr 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
on Apr 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm
Like this comment

When I left home in the late 70's I had roommates. I was in college, working and paying my way. There was no question if I would have my own place. It wasn't even a consideration. After college, not making a whole lot more, still roommates, no expectations of anything else. That was life. The economy drives rents. Nothing has changed in that regard except for the absurd expectation that someone fresh out of college will be able to live alone. Wasn't happening then, not happening now.


Hmmm
another community
on Apr 1, 2013 at 9:44 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Apr 1, 2013 at 9:44 pm
Like this comment

I don't know any recent college grads - & I know many - w/expectations of living alone. They're just thrilled if they find a decent job. What's shameful is when educated, experienced adults have to have a roommate & live in some crummy place due to personal economics & the high cost of living.


Concerned
Portola Valley: other
on Apr 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm
Concerned, Portola Valley: other
on Apr 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm
Like this comment

Housing Advocate: You're right on base.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.