September 19, 2018
Rising Housing Costs Are Re-Segregating 
Bay Area Counties

New reports from the  California Housing Partnership and the Urban Displacement Project at UC Berkeley confirm that rising housing costs between 2000 and 2015 have contributed to the displacement of low-income people of color and resulted in new concentrations of poverty and racial segregation in the Bay Area.
Increases in housing prices have intensified racial disparities in access to neighborhoods with better environmental quality, educational resources and economic opportunities, increasingly placing these neighborhoods out of reach for low-income people of color in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
For example, the reports, which were made possible through a grant from The San Francisco Foundation, found that low-income Black households became increasingly likely to live in high-poverty, segregated neighborhoods between 2000 and 2015. In 2015, 65 percent of San Francisco's low-income Black households lived in high-poverty, segregated neighborhoods - a substantially higher rate than low-income groups of other races. Low-income families living in these types of neighborhoods typically face greater barriers to economic mobility and are more likely to suffer adverse health outcomes.
"These reports provide clear evidence that low-income people of color in the Bay Area suffer the most as housing prices rise and displacement pressures push them into higher-poverty, lower-resource neighborhoods where the odds are stacked against them," says Matt Schwartz, President and CEO of the California Housing Partnership. "We can and must do better."
Counties and cities in the Bay Area need policies and investments that support housing affordability, stability, and greater access to high-resource neighborhoods for low-income people of color. To be successful, these policies and investments must account for both the historic legacies of racial segregation as well as recent trends in re-segregation documented in these reports.
Key findings from the reports:
  • Between 2000 and 2015, as housing prices rose, the City of Richmond, the Bayview in San Francisco and flatland areas of Oakland and Berkeley lost thousands of low-income Black households. Meanwhile, increases in low-income Black households during the same period were concentrated in cities and neighborhoods with lower housing prices - such as Antioch and Pittsburg in eastern Contra Costa County, as well as parts of Hayward and the unincorporated communities of Ashland and Cherryland.
  • Large increases in the number of low-income people of color living in areas that became newly segregated and high-poverty between 2000 and 2015 - such as in the unincorporated communities of Ashland and Cherryland in Alameda County and in cities in East Contra Costa County - are evidence that rising housing costs and migration patterns have contributed to new concentrations of segregation and poverty in the region.
  • Low-income households of color were much more vulnerable than low-income white households to the impact of rapid increases in housing prices. In the Bay Area, a 30 percent tract-level increase in median rent paid between 2000 and 2015 was associated with a 21 percent decrease in low-income households of color. There was no significant relationship between rent increases and losses of low-income white households.
  • Low-income households who made any kind of move in 2015-whether they stayed within their county of origin or left it-ended up paying a higher share of their income on rent than those who did not move, a clear indicator of the high cost of displacement. 
  • Upon moving, a significant share of low-income people of all races not only left their county of origin but the region altogether. For example, 40 percent of low-income Black households in Alameda County who moved in 2015 left the Bay Area, another indication of regional displacement pressures.
For more information on these reports, please contact Senior Policy Analyst Dan Rinzler.