Affordable housing crisis pushing students away from homeownership

Imagine waking up long before the sun comes up, and going to bed long after it sets every day. Imagine getting five hours of sleep each night while balancing a full-time job and your school load. Imagine waking up every morning thinking, “Only 1,460 more days of this.” Starting to get the picture? Then you may see what it feels like to be a student in today’s housing market.

Students in California are forced to commute, in some cases, up to five hours a day just to get to and from school since they can’t afford the high rent prices near campus.

The housing market is failing those who need it the most, those who will be the future of the market.

In fact, a recent study by Fannie Mae shows that those who graduate college are 27% more likely to buy a home than high school graduates. Of course, those who graduate without student debt are even more likely to buy a home, 45% more likely, to be exact.

But in some areas, the lack of affordable housing is making it much more difficult for students to continue in their career.

Rents in some parts of California are so high, in fact, that one pair of roommates had to pay $9,000 just to secure an apartment, according to an article by Libby Rainey for the San Francisco Chronicle. Along with the $3,000 of first month’s rent, they also had to pay a $6,000 security deposit.

Under these conditions, it’s no wonder that many students are forced to choose schools in other areas, commute long hours every day, or even sleep on others’ couches as they try to finish their degree.

At many universities, UC Berkley included, on campus housing is only available to first-year freshmen or transfers.

The article also lays out an example of another student who spent five hours a day commuting to school, and even stayed the night with friends closer to the school a couple days a week.

Speaking as someone who had to get up at 4:30 a.m. every day to make my 8 a.m. classes since I couldn’t afford a closer apartment, it’s exhausting. Almost impossible. Fortunately, I live in Dallas, where after almost one year of working late nights and getting up early, I was able to save up enough to rent an apartment that was closer. Even then, it was only because I had someone who let me live with them rent-free for that long. Not everyone is so lucky.

For those in California, however, it will not be so easy. As it stands right now in this nation, the working class can no longer easily afford to rent even the most modest of accommodations, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In California, they would need to earn $28.59 per hour just to afford a two-bedroom unit.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s something special about looking back over everything you did to get where you are that gives you a sense of pride, but when are we going say enough is enough? At some point, an 18 to 22-year-old college student is going to need an affordable place to live in order to finish their degree and eventually, enter the housing market.

So what is being done for affordable housing? As far as the Fed is concerned, nothing.

Federal housing authorities blocked a San Francisco ordinance setting aside spaces in affordable housing projects for neighborhood residents. This setback prevents efforts to help with the displacement of low-income and minority residents, city officials and residents said.

After the city passed the ordinance, they were notified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that the plan could violate federal laws intended to prevent housing discrimination and the perpetuation of segregation.

And that’s not the only affordable housing plan that’s been struck down. In New York City, the City Council recently rejected a plan for a northern Manhattan apartment building where rents for half of its 355 units would have been in the affordable range for the working and middle class.

So tell me, when it takes all of our energy, time and money just to get through school, how is anyone surprised that Millennials are putting off buying home longer than any other generation?

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