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Report: Rising Rents Reinforce Housing Segregation in the Bay Area

Feb 7, 2019

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new report from the  California Housing Partnership and the Urban Displacement Project at UC Berkeley confirms that rising housing prices in the Bay Area have caused disproportionate harm to low-income households of color, displacing them at higher rates and pushing them into new areas of poverty and racial segregation.

The report, which documents trends across the nine-county region, finds that a 30% increase in neighborhood-level rents between 2000 and 2015 was associated with a 28% loss of low-income households of color but was not associated with a change in low-income white households.

Rising housing prices have effectively reshuffled and reinforced the Bay Area's long-standing patterns of housing segregation while keeping high-resource neighborhoods that are most supportive of upward mobility out of reach for people of color--especially Black and Latinx households.

For example, the report, which was made possible through a grant from The San Francisco Foundation, finds that 53% of low-income Black households in 2015 lived in high-poverty, segregated neighborhoods, representing a substantial increase since 2000 and a much higher rate than low-income groups of other races.

Low-income white households, on the other hand, were seven times more likely to live in higher resource neighborhoods in 2015 than even moderate- and high-income Black households in the region.

"This report confirms that rising housing prices are contributing to re-segregation of the Bay Area and that we need a comprehensive approach to support housing affordability, stability, and greater access to high-resource neighborhoods for low-income people of color," says  Matt Schwartz, President and CEO of the California Housing Partnership. "We must increase our investment in creating and preserving affordable homes while protecting tenants and developing better land use incentives to promote these goals. Implementing the recommendations of the  CASA Compactwould be a giant step in the right direction."

"Answering the question of where displaced households go, how that varies by race and income, and what the relationship is to rising rents all point to a new geography of segregation in our region," says Miriam Zuk, Director of the Urban Displacement Project. "It is critical to document these patterns to ensure that the solutions we begin to identify to solve the housing crisis move us towards a more equitable region."

Key findings from the report:

  • Between 2000 and 2015, as housing prices rose, historically Black cities and neighborhoods across the region lost thousands of low-income Black households. These areas include the Bayview in San Francisco, flatland neighborhoods in Oakland and Berkeley, and the cities of East Palo Alto, Richmond, and Vallejo. Low-income Asian and Latinx households decreased in several neighborhoods in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose that traditionally have been home to large immigrant communities.
  • Low-income households increased in many cities and neighborhoods in the region's outer edges where there are relatively lower housing prices and fewer resources. This pattern was most apparent for low-income Black and Latinx households, who moved to eastern Contra Costa County, Solano County, and southern Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. Low-income Latinx communities also grew in once-predominantly Black neighborhoods in the cities of Richmond and East Palo Alto, as well as across the North Bay.
  • Communities of color were particularly vulnerable to the impact of rapid rent increases in the Bay Area between 2000 and 2015. A 30% tract-level increase in median rent (inflation-adjusted) was associated with a 28% decrease in low-income households of color. There was no significant relationship between rent increases and loss of low-income white households.
  • Upon moving, a substantial share of low-income people left the region altogether; approximately 30% of low-income people of color who moved in 2015 left the Bay Area. The share of movers leaving the region was highest among those moving from San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.

Interactive online maps are available here:

For more information on this report, please contact Senior Policy Analyst Dan Rinzler at drinzler-at-chpc.net.


Note: This nine-county regional report follows three county-level reports published in the fall that document trends in San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties.

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