Society

Bay Area Families Making $100k Qualify As Low-Income

| by Alex Scarr

The cost of living in California's Bay Area has skyrocketed so much that families making more than $100,000 can be considered "low-income."

A family of four with a combined income of $105,000 or less now qualifies as low-income in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. Such families are allowed access to affordable housing by the federal government's Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to KRON. The salary limit of $105,000 is the highest low-income limit in the country.

Santa Clara County has a low-income threshold of $84,000, and Napa County's threshold is $74,000. These county low-income rates far outpace other low-income rates around the country. The national average qualification for low-income is $24,399.

"They are eligible now to apply for housing through the local housing authority, be it Section 8, be it public housing, or other HUD-subsidized programs," said HUD Regional Public Affairs Officer and Homeless Liaison Ed Cabrera.

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"[The solution is] building at every income level, because demand here far outweighs the supply."

"Some of our teachers are sharing housing, sharing bedrooms, renting apartments," said Gloria Hernandez-Goff, superintendent of a Bay Area school district. The district struggled mightily to fill teaching vacancies at various schools because applicants could not afford to live in the neighborhood on a starting teacher's salary.

"I lost staff that had been with us five years or more that had children or were planning to have children and were looking to buy [a home], and the housing costs here for affordable homes to purchase on a teacher's salary are not available."

Hernandez-Goff said several teachers left for jobs in other districts outside of the Bay Area, even though the starting teacher's salary in Hernandez-Goff's district is between $55,000 and $60,000. Teachers who decided to take jobs in the Bay Area were often forced to live two to three hours away to afford it, and police and firefighters also endure long commutes.

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With supply far outpacing demand in the Bay Area communities, housing prices have skyrocketed. Median home prices in San Francisco are steady at $1.16 million, while San Mateo has ridden a 5.7 percent value increase from the previous year, according to Zillow. San Mateo now matches San Francisco in median price.

The median price for a home in the U.S. is $196,500. Average rental prices in San Francisco are $4,235 a month, while the U.S. average is $1,416.

Sources: KRON (2), Zillow (2) / Photo credit: Darshan Simha/Flickr

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