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  • BVNA

Rent increases hit home, year after year

Reading our landlord’s renewal letter, my wife and I were hardly surprised yet still exasperated: For the second consecutive year, we’re facing a huge rent increase.

A year ago, the corporation controlling our building raised our rent 20 percent, unwilling to discuss a fairer increase. Two weeks ago, we felt another gut punch: Pay another 16 percent or move out. That’s a 39 percent increase in two years.

One way to balance rents and income to keep housing affordable is rent stabilization. A third of rental units in San Jose are eligible. This Monday, the housing commission on which I serve votes on an altered Apartment Rental Ordinance. The Housing Department recommends tying increases of rent stabilized apartments to inflation.

Our rental experience mirrors countless others’. Between 2006 and 2014, San Jose rents jumped 42 percent, the largest increase in America. In 2015, the city’s average monthly rent was $2,227.

Median income rose just 11 percent since 2011.

When people hear “affordable housing,” they think it’s for those in poverty. In San Jose, that’s no longer true. It’s now relevant to my wife and me, both working full time at nonprofit organizations.

Astronomical housing costs hurt those with one of society’s crucial jobs: teachers. Some San Jose teachers in their 30s have to live with three roommates. Our friends Jeimee and Charles, educators on the East Side, are moving out of our neighborhood because they can’t find a reasonably priced rental.

The family of one of Jeimee’s students pays 70 percent of family income on rent. Some of Charles’ students are moving in the middle of the school year to affordable cities like Manteca and Stockton. Some blue-collar workers and immigrants remain here with eight people sharing a two-bedroom residence rather than drive hours daily to San Jose jobs.

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