The vaunted affordability of Bakersfield rental housing is quickly fading.

Apartment rents in the city have risen about as rapidly in the first three quarters of this year as in 2019, according to a new survey from Bakersfield’s ASU Commercial. It showed that the average price increase across the city had risen by around 12%, already over 9% by the end of 2020.

This jump, mainly the result of imbalanced supply and demand, is worsening the housing crisis in the city, making it harder for people to recover from homelessness and forcing those with an apartment to reflect. twice before moving.

“We thought Bakersfield was so affordable,” said Carlos Baldovinos, executive director of The Mission at the Kern County homeless shelter. “But the conduct of the housing market has hurt him, for the affordability side of it.”

APARTMENT HUNTING

He said when shelter graduates try to move into rental accommodation, usually with a subsidized voucher, there aren’t enough apartments available and the units aren’t meant to be long term anyway. . When looking for a place they can afford, there isn’t much available.

“They have a minimum wage job. They can’t pay $ 1,800 a month for an apartment. It’s just not doable,” he said. “It’s called the LA prices.”

Bakersfield’s housing market has tightened considerably in recent years as the shortage of apartments and houses to rent has faced increased demand from people from outside the area during the loosening of restrictions on the in-person workplace during the pandemic.

ASU reports vacancy rates are about as low as they’ve ever been, while reports from appraiser Gary Crabtree show house prices this year have hit record highs. Apartment managers say they’re getting more calls than ever from people desperate for a place to live.

NOT ENOUGH

Local governments are doing what they can to support the construction of affordable housing, said Heather Kimmel, deputy executive director of the Housing Authority of the County of Kern. At the same time, the development of apartments at market prices has accelerated. But Kimmel said it wasn’t enough.

She cited a 2019 study suggesting that Kern County needed more than 26,000 affordable housing units to meet demand. This was before the tightening that has occurred since the pandemic, she said, and incomes have not kept pace with the rent increases that have followed.

“We just see the gap widening and the need increasing,” Kimmel said. The city and county government is streamlining channels for apartment developers, and the Housing Authority is working on introducing a new inventory, she added, “but housing construction takes time.” .

It’s not just people in so-called affordable housing who are going through difficult times. The same goes for tenants of apartment complexes at market prices.

‘PRICE SHOCK’

More than a third of renters who tell local apartment owner St. Clair Realty Inc. that they are moving quickly think it better, said owner Frank St. Clair, adding that the share could be closer to half .

“When you ask them, every time, it’s the same story, ‘Oh, my God, I didn’t realize the rent had gone up (that much),'” he said.

“They are undergoing a price shock,” he continued. “They don’t want to move.

ASU reported that the number of properties charging $ 2,000 or more for rent tripled to six in the third quarter alone.

Meanwhile, no owner in the city was offering concessions such as reduced fees, he reported, and nearly three dozen were charging utility costs. Both market indicators represent a significant turnaround from recent years.

‘THE OWNER’S MARKET’

Ian William Sharples, a board member of the Income Property Association of Kern, said by email that there is no doubt Bakersfield is experiencing a “homeowners market” driven by high demand and low supply.

There is a risk that prices will rise too high and too fast, he wrote: A market bubble could form. It might not be worth the long term for landlords to raise rents to the point that tenants can’t keep up.

“If new tenants are attracted to affordability but affordability disappears,” he wrote, “then we’re back to square one.”

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