Fenced Out of Affordable Housing

My daughter rents storage space at one of the local facilities. From my infrequent trips to the place over the years, I have observed stark changes. For starters: An increasing number of people, many of them clearly employed, living out of a vehicle and storing their stuff. With the cost of housing so incredulously expensive in San Diego, these working nomads are not surprising to find. What shocks is how many more I see compared to 18 months ago.

Since a new report about residential renting released this week, I will focus on that topic and let be soaring home selling prices for another time. (If you can’t wait: “Pop Goes Another Housing Bubble” and “Simply Stated: San Diego Unaffordable Housing“.) According to Zumper, rents rose 31.3 percent year-over-year in April 2022. “As a result, San Diego has leapfrogged San Jose and Los Angeles to become the nation’s fifth most expensive city”. Ugh, and I know it’s a fact from watching rents relentlessly rise.

Rents stayed relatively stable “during the first year of the pandemic”, according to Zumper, “but began rising rapidly in May 2021”. That would be about when I started seeing a shocking surge in property selling prices, which if Zumper’s analysis is accurate might explain why rentals rose so high, so quickly:

Rising home valuations price out renters who would otherwise buy, thus keeping them in the rental market longer than they otherwise would, which adds to the demand for rental housing. Home prices in the San Diego metro area have risen almost 50 percent in the last two years.

Say what? Fifty percent?

In April 2022, the median one-bedroom rent in San Diego is $2,390, according to Zumper. Two bedroom: $3,050. Using Zillow this evening, I could find 320-500 square-foot one-bed flats for as low as $1,595. Anything costing less, and not by much, is a studio. First actually available two-bed unit is $1,975 and quite the bargain compared to others. Dogs are allowed (sorry, but not cats). All amounts are monthly; 12-month leases are expected.

All this brings us back to the storage facility, where I used iPhone 13 Pro to capture the Featured Image and companion on April 26. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/797 sec, 77mm; 3:26 p.m. PDT. The other: f/1.5, ISO 50, 1/3571 sec, 26mm; 3:26 p.m. I was captivated by contrast of flowers and plants set against the razor barbed wire fence, beyond which homeless people push carts of belongings or encamp—up from few to none 12 months ago to many in Twenty-Twenty-Two.

But in context of homeless folks moving along the property’s perimeter, while others camp in vehicles and store their possessions, the fence is a metaphor for overbearing rental costs that keep some San Diegans from a place where they can afford to live.