by Jerika L.H.
Recent abuses of power at a local low-cost housing complex have raised questions and concerns among residents about the dire lack of affordable housing in Davis. Constant cuts in funding have resulted in a significant loss of federal funds for the Davis Affordable Housing Program.
According to the City of Davis, 71.5% of local households are classified as low-income, with 25% of this population making below what they need to pay their monthly rent. The Federal Census Bureau indicates that 51% of college students are living well below the poverty threshold, which translates to approximately 18,000 students in Davis.
For some, the combination of astronomical tuition rates and the high cost of living is too expensive to maintain, contributing to steep college drop out rates. Due to the constant influx of students arriving every year to attend UC Davis, landlords have the privilege of knowing properties will always be in demand.
This drives up rent prices and has resulted in local properties averaging up to $525 more per month than the recommended rent prices for low-income occupants.
Cal Housing Finance researcher and activist Matt Palm explains. “People think because Davis is on track to meet the Regional Housing Needs Assessment – the fair share affordable housing mandate from the state – that it is doing enough for affordable housing. This is a joke. The RHNA ensures a minimum number of affordable units are zoned for and is not in any way an insurance to write off building any more housing than that. The lack of Land available is the result of choices by the community as much as anything else. ”
The low-cost housing units which are present in Davis have extremely long waiting lists, with some locals waiting years to hear back on their eligibility. The growing number of commuter students is another testament to the serious attrition of affordable housing in the community.
Apart from students, the lack of low-income housing seriously affects seniors, individuals with disabilities, SSI recipients, single parent families, and at risk populations such as former foster youth and former victims of domestic abuse.
A series of identity thefts perpetrated by a local low-income housing manager has led some to question the severe vulnerability of those looking for help in already limited places. Prospective renters and tenants must surrender a great deal of personal information in order to qualify for low-income housing subsidies.
They are often exploited. Additionally, low-income renters are less likely to report violations, out of fear of losing their in-demand units. Matt Palm expands: “Once people get in, there is real fear about losing eligibility or moving out. We have people accepting homes in the summer without AC because it’s all they can afford and they just ‘sweat it out’ until winter. For example, an AC had broken and this student was (illegally) told it would be $200 a month rental increase to pay for a new one… It’s not that uncommon.”
Low-income renters are also more likely to be subject to illegal evictions and lockouts and usually lack the legal support needed to uphold their rights. The City of Davis cites loss of funding and land availability as the two main barriers in alleviating the growing problem of the high cost of living in Davis.
Read more here: http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=5057