How High Is Rent? Most Californians Have Considered Moving
File photo by Beatrice Murch/Flickr

How High Is Rent? Most Californians Have Considered Moving

The latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) Poll has put California's housing crisis in startling perspective: A majority of voters have considered moving "because of rising housing costs," according to the survey.

One in four voters said they've recently considered leaving the state for good. And about half the state's voters (48 percent) say the housing affordability issue is "extremely serious," according to the survey.

"What we're facing is hotel workers, bus drivers, teachers — the people who make L.A. run — are being run out of L.A. because of the high rents," says Larry Gross, executive director of the nonprofit Coalition for Economic Survival. "This is a crisis situation."

The survey found that the Bay Area had the most voters (65 percent) who believe we're dealing with an "extremely serious" housing affordability problem. That compared with 42 percent of voters in L.A. County and 55 percent in San Diego and Orange counties.

Fifty-nine percent of Angelenos have considered moving as a result of housing costs, according to the IGS poll. For the Bay Area, the percentage was 51 percent; for San Diego and Orange counties, it was 57 percent.

"When you then ask them where they would you relocate, they're often throwing up their hands," poll director Mark DiCamillo says. "Millennials seem to be the most likely to say they'd consider leaving."

Indeed, 65 percent of the 18- to 29-year-old crowd and 69 percent of the 30- to 39-year-old demographic say they've considered moving as a result of housing costs, the poll found.

A slight majority of voters (51 percent) said they'd support a proposed multibillion-dollar bond measure that would raise money to build low-income housing. Just such a $4 billion bond was approved by the Legislature recently, but it would still require the governor's signature and voters' approval.

A solid majority of Californians support "rent control," even though it already exists in somewhat limited forms in places like Los Angeles, Santa Monica and San Francisco. "A 60 percent majority of voters support giving local governments the ability to set limits on how much rents can be increased as a way to help low- and middle-income people remain in their communities," according to a summary of the survey.

Gross of the Coalition for Economic Survival agrees that more emphasis needs to be put on preventing the displacement of Californians. He says recent housing legislation is focused on building new units, but we need to pay attention to the units we have now. "It's got to be a strategic and comprehensive approach to our housing prices," Gross says.

"Every rent-control tenant in the city has a bull's-eye on their back," he says, because landlords can reset rents to market rates once someone moves out. "That's another piece of the puzzle that needs to be addressed."

Berkeley researchers polled 1,200 registered voters in the Golden State. The rate of error was said to be plus or minus 4 percent.

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