row of housesBy Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

The San Francisco Bay Area in California has some of the highest rents in the state. But a recent report from the California Department of Housing and Community Development makes it clear that Humboldt County residents are harder pressed to make ends meet because of their relative isolation and transportation costs.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines “affordable housing” as that which consumes no more than 30 percent of a family’s income and includes utilities. The California report, however, takes into consideration transportation costs and raises the threshold to 50 percent. As such, most California counties are simply unaffordable; in Humboldt County, housing costs amount to about 75 percent. Limited supply of housing in Humboldt also drives up demand and inflates costs.

“Working full-time at a minimum wage of $10 an hour, a renter or homeowner can afford $520 per month in housing costs,” the HCD report states. According to the latest Humboldt Economic Index, produced by Humboldt State University’s Economics Department, the average monthly rent on two-, three- and four-bedroom houses in Humboldt County is $1,760.

For that to be affordable according to the HUD standard, a household income would have to be $70,400 a year – more than 23 percent higher than Humboldt County’s average household income of $57,163.

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