Housing

How Are We Doing?

Housing received a thumbs-down because the Housing Affordability Index for San Diego County decreased from 26% in December 2017 to 24% in December 2018. The Housing Affordability Index measures median household income relative to the income needed to purchase a median-priced house. A decrease in the rate means that fewer people can afford to purchase a house in San Diego County. The percentage of families that spend over 30% of their income on rent in San Diego County has remained consistently high and is similar to levels in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Want to know more about what we're measuring?

thumbs down

Worsened more than 1 percent from 2017 to 2018

Data Source: California Association of Realtors, Housing Affordability Index – Traditional Methodology, 2019

In the fourth quarter of 2018, San Diego County’s Housing Affordability Index was about 4% lower than the state average, meaning fewer people can afford to purchase a house in San Diego compared to the state as a whole. From 2017 to 2018, San Diego County’s Housing Affordability Index decreased from 26% to 24%, indicating that fewer people can afford a median-priced house. Learn more about the California Association of Realtor's Housing Affordability Index.

Why is it Important?

High quality of life means a clean environment, a thriving economy, and an equitable place for all to enjoy.

  • According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, San Diego County has the fourth largest population in the U.S. of people experiencing homelessness. Among U.S. cities with large homeless populations, San Diego County has the second highest number of homeless veterans.
  • As outlined in the California Housing Partnership’s 2019 Statewide Housing Needs Report, low-income households are disproportionately burdened by the lack of affordable housing in the state. Among the lowest income households, 76% spend more than half of their income towards housing costs.
  • A San Diego Housing Commission report estimates the impact that high housing costs have on the economy. By limiting disposable income that residents would otherwise spend back into the economy, the high cost of housing makes the region less competitive against other metropolitan regions in attracting and retaining businesses and a talented workforce. The local economy loses an estimated $2.4 billion annually because of the disposable income that gets diverted to housing costs. The region also loses an estimated $73 billion and 275,000 new jobs due to forgone construction of housing that would have been created to meet the actual housing needs.

Data Source: California Association of Realtors, Current Sales & Price Statistics, 2019

The median single-family home price in San Diego County increased by 2.2% from $605,000 in 2017 to $618,500 in 2018. Median home prices in Sacramento saw the largest percentage increase of 4.4%. The state average remained relatively constant, increasing by 1.5%.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, 2017 

In 2017, 38% of homeowners with mortgages in San Diego County paid more than a third of their income on housing. This decreased from 40% in 2016 and is comparable to the state average.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, 2017

Rent in California is expensive. Overall, the median rent in the state is 40% higher than the national median rent value. This trend is more acute in San Diego County, where the median rent is 58% higher than the national value. The proportion of income that people spend toward rent in San Diego County is consistently high. In San Diego County, 57% of people pay over 30% of their income on rent. San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties have the highest proportion of people paying over 30% of their income on rent.

Regional Response

Policies

  • As part of City of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s Housing SD Plan, the San Diego City Council introduced zero minimum parking space requirements for affordable multi-family residential development in Transit Priority Areas. This policy is designed to increase the supply of affordable housing and encourage people to use alternative modes of transportation. As a co-benefit, it helps San Diego City move closer to reaching its climate action goals.
  • Local governments, in order to tap into state funds, need to have local sources of funds to match. Proportionally, the City of San Diego should get 8% of available funds, but they fall short because they do not have a local source to match. The 2020 Affordable Housing and Homelessness Bond Measure for the City of San Diego would help provide that local source of funding to match and acquire state funds to build more affordable housing and combat the region's homelessness.
  • State legislators in California are looking at measures to ease housing affordability in the state. Assembly Constitutional Amendment No.1 (ACA-1) would change the voter threshold to pass bonds related to affordable housing and public infrastructure from 2/3 to 55% of voters. This would allow for an easier passage of the Affordable Housing and Homelessness Bond Measure.

What Are We Measuring?

We measure housing affordability by tracking the California Association of Realtors’ Housing Affordability Index, which measures the percentage of households that can afford a median home price at the national average mortgage rate with a standard 20% down payment and typical monthly costs (taxes, mortgage, insurance). We also track year-over-year changes in median single-family home prices and the percentage of households paying more than 30% of their income on housing. Learn more about the data.