Money can’t buy love and it can’t buy happiness.
And in some areas of the San Francisco, it can’t buy most people a home, either.
The latest annual report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has categorized a family of four that lives in San Francisco, San Mateo or Marin counties and earns less than $117,400 per year as being a “low income” family.
Defining the “low income” segment of a population in any region is how the government determines who is eligible for federal housing assistance.
By comparison, the HUD-determined low-income threshold for a family of four in Los Angeles is $77,500. In New York City, long known for its expensive living costs, a family of four earning less than $83,450 is considered a low-income household.
While housing prices are rising around the country, nowhere is it happening faster than in the Bay Area, where home values have soared 64 percent over the last five years.
The incredible rise in housing values is being fueled by well-paid tech workers at companies like Google, Apple and Facebook, as well as general shortage of housing in an area where very little land is available for new development.
In May, the median home price in the Bay Area hit a record high at $935,000, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
And it’s not just luxurious homes that fetch big prices.
A burned-out house sold for $900,000 less than a week after it went on the market in the Silicon Valley area, and a condemned home in Fremont sold for $1.23 million.
Rising home values are good news for people who already own a home, but for people looking to buy a home it can be a fruitless search to find something in their price range.
And for those who can’t afford to buy a house, those who opt to rent until they can save enough for a home struggle to ever achieve their dream because rents are among the most expensive in the country, as well.
“It just demonstrates how broken and unsustainable our housing market is,” said Amie Fishman, executive director of the Non-profit Housing Association of Northern California, told the San Jose Mercury News. “More and more people are unable to afford housing.”
Fishman said simply building more places to live doesn’t necessarily help lower-income people find more housing, however.
“The market will never produce homes for people at that level,” she said. “The market produces housing for those at the top.”
The result of the surge in home prices is forcing a growing number of people to leave the Bay Area in search of more affordable options.
“Jobs and housing are really the primary criteria driving people’s decisions,” Hans Johnson, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “If jobs predominate, people are moving in. If housing predominates, you have less people moving in.”
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