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Crisis at Home

Valentino Alba

  • February 18, 2024

You are fresh out of college in California. You have a full-time job as an administrative assistant for $20/hour, and you get paid biweekly, meaning you take home $2592/month (after taxes). It is not a comfortable living situation, as you spend around 14% of your money to buy food, leaving you $2229 and some change. Before you take the rest of the money and spend it on “non-necessities”, you have one bill you have to pay. The rent for your $1800 studio apartment in Cerritos, an incredibly generous rate considering the average rent is $2000. This leaves you $429 to do whatever you want. Once again, the 14% of the money you take out of your check to buy food does not include your phone bill ($50/month), gas money ($190/month), or the little amount you contribute to your student loans ($100/month). All you have left is $89. 


California is not a hospitable place for new renters, homeowners, or California natives. To be even remotely comfortable in California, you need to earn around $80,000/year. You would have to make $6,666/month, which is not representative of what most California residents make. According to a study by UC Berkeley, the average homeowner’s  age is 49, and less than 45% of Californians own a home as of 2021. 34% of residents are considering moving out of California due to the price of housing. In theory, this is a good thing; fewer people means the rent prices will decrease. However, that is not the case, as the economy in California is very dependent on the amount of people living in the state; a decrease in population will damage the state’s economic health. Even if you were to move into a less expensive city, for example, Bakersfield, the average cost of living is still 2-3% higher than the national average. Imagine, people who make $100,000/year in San Francisco are considered low-income!


Even if you do not drive a car, do not pay a phone bill, or contribute less than average to your loans, other things still peck away at your check - miscellaneous repairs, transportation, medical bills, and insurance. So, what can we do to combat higher rent in California? This is a serious challenge, however, there are things we can all do. In your county or city: sign petitions for renter protections, fight for a tenant union, and rent control. If enough people speak up, there can be significant change in California. 

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