Equity Ripples: Concord Feels Weight Of Bay Area Housing Crisis

July 3, 2019 8:00 am · 47 comments

(by Kiley Russell, Bay City News Foundation) – In the chaotic environment of the Bay Area’s ongoing housing crisis, few suburban cities personify the region’s rent woes more clearly than Concord, where tenant groups say political leaders have failed to protect the city’s most vulnerable populations.

Contra Costa County’s largest city has been buffeted by the same forces that have descended on nearly every Bay Area community – a growing population, increasingly scarce housing supplies and a widening income gap
that leaves low-income households and communities of color struggling to afford roofs over their heads.

“Across the region we have a housing crisis that is impacting renters, especially low-income renters and renters of color. That’s increasing and that’s true in Concord,” said Sarah Treuhaft, managing director at PolicyLink, a national research and advocacy group working to advance racial and economic equity.

The city of 130,559 appears to be particularly vulnerable, however, because of its significant number of renters (nearly 40 percent of residents, according to city officials), its declining income levels, its lack of affordable housing and its growing Latino population.

The median income in the city dropped by more than $1,300 from 2010 to 2015 and the majority of renters in Concord have household incomes of less than $50,000, but no neighborhood in the city is affordable to people at
this income level, according to data from the Bay Area Equity Atlas, an analysis tool and database focused on the metrics of inequality in the region.

Also, from 2000 to 2015, the percentage of renters in Concord who spent 30 percent or more of their income on rent rose from 44 percent to 57 percent, according to the atlas, which was developed by a partnership between PolicyLink, the San Francisco Foundation and the University of Southern California.

That’s 7 percentage points higher than the nine-county region as a whole and 13 percentage points higher than San Francisco, where the high cost of housing has been blamed for the displacement of black and Latino
communities for years.

This type of housing insecurity reaches beyond people’s inability to find affordable places to live by acting as a brake on the local economy, Treuhaft said.

For example, if all renters in Contra Costa County paid less than 30 percent of their income on rent, they would have an additional $582 million in disposable income to spend on things like childcare, transportation, education, food and other essentials, Treuhaft said.

For lower-income, rent-burdened households, that’s an average of $8,350 per year that could be pumped back into the economy.

“You address this by raising incomes … and lowering housing costs,” Treuhaft said.

In terms of housing costs, however, it appears that just the opposite is happening in Concord.

According to a city rental housing report, there are currently 1,811 affordable units in Concord, where, according to the atlas, median monthly rents increased by roughly 46 percent to $2,427 between 2011 and 2017.

This is compounded by the fact that, according to data from the Association of Bay Area Governments shared in the Bay Area Equity Atlas and city officials, no affordable units were built between 2007 and 2017.

“You need strategies that address the supply-side and produce housing at all income levels, especially at lower income levels,” Treuhaft said. “And we need strategies that protect renters from skyrocketing rents and evictions and displacement, and we need to preserve the existing affordable housing.”

Over the past few years, the city has been grappling with policies that would do just that, largely in response to demands from tenant advocacy groups.

Concord Mayor Carlyn Obringer points out that the city has established a Residential Rent Review Program, improved its multi-family building inspection program and is spending $7.8 million on a 62-unit affordable housing project, among other things.

At its June 19 meeting, the City Council had the opportunity to move forward with eight new policies, including improvements to its rent review process, extended notifications for evictions, mandatory relocation assistance for displaced tenants and a just cause eviction mandate.

The council opted not to pursue the just cause eviction option and in the past has rejected demands from tenant groups that were pushing for rent control.

Rent control lacks support from the majority of Concord voters, who rejected last year’s statewide Proposition 10, which would have made it easier for cities to enact such policies, Obringer said.

Rent control could also discourage investment in new rental projects and the acquisition and rehabilitation of existing properties, she said.

The lack of new affordable housing construction, indeed any new residential rental construction, Obringer said, is a problem built in to Concord’s rental market.

Because rents in the city are below the Bay Area’s average, developers are pursuing projects in neighboring cities where the potential for a return on investment is greater, she said.

“It’s a balance,” Obringer said. “We’re trying to find a fair and balanced solution.”

Tenant advocates, however, say the city’s most vulnerable populations will continue to struggle with housing insecurity and displacement unless Concord implements more robust renter protections.

“I feel like this is common sense and it shouldn’t be such a struggle to decide that you’re going to prioritize families over greed,” said Nicole Zapata, a community organizer with East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, a regional advocacy group that has been working for immigrant and tenant protections in Concord.

“How do you want the world to look? Is the Bay Area just going to be a place for the rich,” Zapata asked. “For me, at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to.”

The City Council’s refusal to explore rent stabilization or just
cause eviction policies is “a complete dismissal of Concord tenants and working families,” according to a letter sent to councilmembers by the advocacy group Raise the Roof.

“Housing stability for Concord tenants is a racial, economic, and social justice issue and Concord City Council is on the wrong side of history in this housing crisis,” the letter says.

The letter notes that other cities such as Hayward, Richmond and Mountain View, among others, have implemented such policies and “investment in these cities is alive and well.”

“The goal of increasing the production of housing and protecting tenants are not mutually exclusive,” Treuhaft said, noting that rent control does not apply to new construction in California.

“I think that the political dynamic is such that developers have a lot of power and are always coming out against tenant protections, that’s a given, and our elected leaders and government officials need to take a stand for tenants who have less power in that situation,” Treuhaft said.

Nancy Ru July 3, 2019 at 8:12 AM

Fourth paragraph population total for Concord does not look right. If that fact isn’t correct, how many other facts fall under suspicion? While I can agree with the major subject of this piece, that was too glaring to miss!

AnonZ July 3, 2019 at 9:15 AM

OH YEAH, GLARING BIG difference of 776 from 2017’s count.
If you are so worried it’s wrong, why didn’t you fact check it before you call it fake??

Year 2017 Population: 129,783

At the 2010 census, the city had a population of 122,067

Mary Fouts July 3, 2019 at 9:18 AM

The population cited is accurate, about 130,000 people. Most populous city in the county, followed by Antioch and Richmond.

Fred July 3, 2019 at 9:38 AM

It’s the traffic and crowds that make it seem like more than it is.

Dave July 3, 2019 at 10:21 AM

The population seems correct to me. Most estimates put Concord pretty much at 130k ppl.

Perhaps you meant the percentage of renters? This figure is consistent with the recent findings of the ad hoc committee.

I guess I’m just not sure what you are comparing these numbers to in order to validate your claim that they’re incorrect.

Eric Jefferson July 3, 2019 at 8:24 AM

How has the City of Concord and the residents survived until now, without rent control and Government intervention in the housing market?

Dave July 3, 2019 at 10:23 AM

Sometimes structures burn for quite a while before collapsing.

Ricardoh July 3, 2019 at 8:45 AM

We are no longer allowed to talk about the real problem. No longer even allowed to dance around it. We can’t even count it.

Dr. Jellyfinger July 3, 2019 at 9:48 AM

ANTIFA does it…. misguided children that they are & they don’t even get arrested……but now if “I” did anything like that they’d toss me and my MAGA hat in jail for a year.

Ricardoh July 3, 2019 at 9:49 AM

AnonZ People who have to work for a living have no time to compete with the left who has ways of calling for demonstrations to appear throughout the whole country in a day. Yesterday was a good example of the left having a nation wide demonstration on the rights of illegal aliens. They show up with their printed and homemade signs on the drop of a hat while the rest of us are working. Couple that with leftist politicians who refuse common sense and we are lost. In fifty years ever city in this country will be like the south side of Chicago.

Kenji July 3, 2019 at 12:57 PM

Ricardoh, if you’re referring to the protest in WC yesterday, it was scheduled deliberately after working hours so those of us with day jobs could get there after work. It has nothing to do with working for a living or not. Some people make time for political activism in spite of their full-time jobs – by using up their limited vacation hours if necessary. The ability to do this is not limited by one’s political views.

SF oh July 3, 2019 at 2:02 PM

I read about the hypocritical, fools blocking traffic in SF yesterday to protest the treatment of illegals in detention facilities. I wonder how many homeless people they stepped over and ignored to get to the protest? Y’know, the people living in cardboard boxes and under tarps? That’s prob not the best living environment either – but who cares … it’s not cool and PC to protest that. I wonder if the protesters ever demonstrate on behalf of hungry children in the US? The No Kid Hungry foundation estimates 1 in 6 children live in “food insecure” homes. I witnessed this myself when working for a school in central California. On Fridays, we would send the kids home with bags containing cereal and other food items so they would have food to eat until they came back to school on Monday. We also provided jackets, shoes, etc. I don’t recall seeing any protestors blocking streets on their behalf either.

Winston July 3, 2019 at 8:50 AM

This article says that Concord is in decline with falling incomes. If this is true, why would we want to build more poverty housing instead of trying to attract people with jobs?

4th generation CCC July 3, 2019 at 10:20 AM

We need more higher paying jobs in Concord. There is too much commuting to other areas affecting our air quality and quality of life. Rentals for a one bedroom in Concord are now $1800.00 a month. Prices on property have gone up partially to do with those house flippers. People with a lot of money coming in here from other countries paying cash and turning around and selling at a profit. It is called affordable housing which is still expensive.

Winston July 3, 2019 at 10:30 AM

@4th Generation CCC
I agree. The loss of Chevron was a big blow to Concord and until we can get more good paying jobs in town that, not building welfare housing should be the sole focus of the city council.

Just me July 3, 2019 at 9:16 PM

We need affordable housing for CURRENT Concord residents. Most people that need affordable housing DO HAVE JOBS, they just don’t make enough to pay sky high rent.

winston July 4, 2019 at 9:22 AM

@Just me subsidizing poverty seems like a bad plan. If you make $15/hour, maybe you should move to Bay Point.

Anonymous July 3, 2019 at 9:01 AM

How about the city of concord supplement a rental
Portion for these low income renters instead of putting in rent control. Rent control will practically stop the turn over and then the low income renters that aren’t already in a place won’t have a chance. Let’s use some of city councils salaries for the subsidy. In addition let’s make sure the council member live in concord and understand the voters and renters perspective.

Bob Foo July 3, 2019 at 11:09 AM

The elected city council don’t get salaries. They get a small stipend.

Anonymous July 3, 2019 at 9:06 AM

Of course if the people that are here illegally were to go home the demand would go down , as would rental prices . We can’t even take care of our own people and some politicians are doing everything they can to encourage illegal immigration .

Nature Lover July 3, 2019 at 12:20 PM

Agree with you. Also, move to where you can afford to live. That is what the rest of us have had to do over our lifetime. I get so tired of all the whiners. If you really want something, make it happen on your own initiative. Stop looking to the government to solve all your social problems. (I’ll get off my soap box now)

Kenji July 3, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Many people have moved to where they could afford to live – Pittsburg, Antioch, even Stockton. They drive longer miles to their jobs and produce more traffic congestion than before, which shows up on Hwy 4, 680, and even surface streets in Concord. Then we complain about cut-through traffic and excessive road maintenance costs in Concord.

Nature Lover July 3, 2019 at 1:28 PM

@ Kenji Then get a job where you live. I did. There are good jobs in Antioch, Pittsburg, and Stockton. If I could do it, so could they. It takes planning and persistence.

Bill Cutting July 3, 2019 at 9:08 AM

Spot on Ricardoh ! Illegal immigration is a major problem but legal immigration is also a major problem. I advocate for no more immigration at all …!the boat is full I don’t think any of these people that are pro immigration actually drive around here it’s a mess there’s traffic on every highway stop building stop inviting people here you’re ruining the quality of life and polluting Big time. You’re not altruistic being pro immigration you’re a sellout at this point ruining the quality of life of your fellow citizens… my message to the people of the world is fix your home…

RANDOM TASK July 3, 2019 at 9:30 AM

when are you going to understand …..its over ..there was no war …no fight …
no whimper or even an outburst or vote …..this state has been over thrown and now is run by socialists from south of the border …and are instituting the silent takeover …that is only a few years from securing the state and abolishing any American laws and or freedoms

the article said …
The city of 130,559 appears to be particularly vulnerable, however, because of its significant number of renters (nearly 40 percent of residents, according to city officials), its declining income levels, its lack of affordable housing and its growing Latino population.

hmmmm see every point is pointing at the city council and state officials and district attorney all steering the state and cities into a mexico driven economy and standards …its everywhere …as city centers are the main money grabbers and a few blocks away the decaying rest of the city exists

the flood of illegals and the city councils all over the state pushing for rent control and slamming the middle class with taxes and pushing them out
as well as the middle class apartment owners being strangled with the cities control issues

if you hinder these owners they don’t expand or anyone wanting to build a tenant building are not because the city is harassing owners

this state is causing the mess so the politicians can secure votes every time by saying they are going to fix it ….for the last 25 years they have been saying this ….

look around drive thru the streets …they did not look like this 40 years ago

the politicians are driving this illegals first propaganda and then blaming the American citizens for not supporting illegals with low income housing
they are pushing crime and illegal activity first and freedoms of americans second

don’t believe me look around ….read ….watch bay area focus and state focus and politicians pleading for more taxes and more low income …sounds defeating ….higher taxes and low income housing how is that sustainable ….anyone want to answer that

RANDOM TASK July 3, 2019 at 9:36 AM

Treuhaft said, noting that rent control does not apply to new construction in California.

chuckie the troll July 3, 2019 at 10:09 AM

If renters are that upset with Concord, may I suggest that they move to Walnut Creek, Fremont, San Jose, etc…? Concord rental rates are tame by comparison. Parcel taxes, water, PGE, insurance, repairs, etc…are all increasing well above the rate of inflation. And if you look at the cost of new construction? “Low-income” housing project in Walnut Creek, with a mix of Studio and 1 Bed units, is costing $350,000 PER UNIT to build.

Private companies and individuals should not be required to underwrite someone else’s living expenses. May I suggest that everyone who is outraged by rental rates donate to an organization (such as Contra Costa Interfaith Housing) that will build/buy/maintain units and rent them out at sub-market rates. Anything less is hypocrisy.

Clam Bake July 3, 2019 at 10:27 AM

I see the words “of color” and I stop reading.

Justifiable anger July 3, 2019 at 10:44 AM

The infrastructure is already beyond its limits.

City of Concord cannot even keep up with street repairs. Blocks of county neighborhoods lose power regularly. Drought permanently declared. I don’t even want to think about the stress on our sewage system.

How will adding thousands more alleviate the current distress?

Close the borders you bunch of fools.

60 year resident July 3, 2019 at 11:08 AM

Lived hear 60 and worked my rear off for 50 of those, not to hand over this city to Mexico. Went to the meeting on the 19th just to see what was going on, it was basically a bunch of left wing community organizers who were even wearing special t-shirts branding there special interest group which I’m sure was from out of town. The people who spoke some of them were just reading for other people who I’m guessing can’t speak English. Seemed to be about beefs with apartments, so keep all your government do gooding to apartments and leave everyone else alone. If Concord already has some of the lowest rents in the Bay Area why are we letting the city take over all the Real Estate. Government control didn’t work in Venezuela and it won’t work here. Politicians including our local Congressmen Mark DeSaulnier and others like Govener Newsom are encouraging everyone to come over the border illegally which is overloading the City of Concord. City council should push back and represent the People who bought and payed for this city,

Ricardoh July 3, 2019 at 11:57 AM

I agree but way too late now I’m afraid.

Kenji July 3, 2019 at 1:02 PM

This city was founded by a Mexican, Salvio Pacheco, under the name “Todos Santos”. Immigrants who did not want to assimilate decided to rename it to “Concord”.

Captain Bebops July 3, 2019 at 12:38 PM

Get over it! Like I’ve said before the future of Concord is highrises. We need housing for everyone not just for money hoarders.

jon s July 3, 2019 at 3:33 PM

Arent you special.Take a pill now.

Jack's Fan July 3, 2019 at 12:51 PM

It baffles me the turn the comments take to outright racism and ancient-minded ignorance on so many points. Our neighborhood in particular has become a bedroom community for folks commuting on BART to SF and the South Bay, priced out of the cities which hold their higher paying jobs. To afford a modest 3-bedroom home in most parts of Concord you need to pull in close to $200k to avoid being house-poor.

Last time I checked a city still needs folks working in the service industry, who serve all of us. To ask them all to commute an hour or more from the central valley, to work for low wages is not realistic. I agree more government involvement is not the best solution, but to try and blame the current Bay Area housing crisis on immigration alone is to ignore the truth of the situation. The cost has increased dramatically here because you can commute to Silicon Valley and SF with relative ease. For every immigrant taking up space, there are two ‘techies’ pricing others out of the market.

Fed Up July 3, 2019 at 1:14 PM

What is missing from this is the cost for an investor to buy a home for rental purposes. If they buy a 3bd/2 ba home for $600,000 and put down 30%, the monthly mortgage payment, property taxes and insurance are almost $3,500. What do you expect them to charge for monthly rent to try and get a return on their investment? It’s not fair that Concord wants to impose rent control on landlords that didn’t cause this problem.

Kenji July 3, 2019 at 3:22 PM

Rent control limits *increases* in rent, not the starting rent. A landlord can price in all those costs at the start.

Michael July 3, 2019 at 3:43 PM

Per PropertyRadar that tracks alls sales including foreclosures.

The 94518 area code had 135 residential units transferred as rental properties in the past year 65 of them were over $600K. In the $600+ RANGE only 7 properties had equity below $100K including 3 that have negative equity. 17 OF THE 65 WERE transferred FREE AND CLEAR 100% EQUITY…

The numbers of the other 70 properties below $600K had 36 of them transferred via all cash free and clear 100% equity.

Oh… roughly 15% of the buyers are Chinese and another 15% are white and another 15% are Hispanic. The other 55% are even at around 7-8%. Asian, German, Italian, Middle Eastern, Scandinavian, Scotch and Western Europe.

Only 9% have income below 25K, another 9% between 55K-75K, 25% have income in excess of $250K…the remainder is between 80K-150K. Incomes of 25K-50K, 150K-250K are less then 4%

Kindly share your source for data if you show any discrepancies.

Rollo Tomasi July 3, 2019 at 4:51 PM

“A landlord can price in all those costs at the start.”

And what limits are in place to prevent property taxes and insurance from increasing?

jtkatec July 3, 2019 at 2:44 PM

When I was a kid working at Emil Villa’s in Walnut Creek, there were a number of the staff who lived on Carnel Drive in WC, where all the apartments are. They were busboys, dishwashers, and cooks, living four to six people in an apartment. Even then it was expensive and that’s why they had to have so many people in an apartment. They scrimped and saved and I know a couple of us ex-employees now own houses. Some in WC, some in Concord, some in Antioch. Let’s start changing the conversation from RENT CONTROL to saving for those things you want.

Janon July 3, 2019 at 3:00 PM

Seems it’s hard to survive unless you have family established with real estate already it’s “first ones here” are better off and where does that leave newer citizens who don’t have “old money” in the family? Struggling to provide for their families-can’t even give their kids a normal childhood in concord with companies lowering wages, taking away benefits like healthcare and Landlords many of which likely aren’t even citizens themselves but instead overseas investors turning us into tenants…DO SOMETHING so kids can have a nice childhood with happy parents who work hard and don’t just barely make it but maybe even thrive after all their hard work!!! It’s not right that we’ve allowed people who don’t even live here and are just rich beyond measure to buy up real estate here, reduce the amount of inventory/houses available for buyers to choose from, HIKE up the rents, and lack of inventory spikes home prices and makes it IMPOSSIBLE for renters to save for a down!!!! -HOW could our government not see that happening with allowing other countries to buy up homes here?? You’re doing a bad job giving people quality of life. And no I’m not some “scum of the earth” I’m a homeowner and a graduate of UCB but a former renter too. It’s despicable. You can’t allow business to take benefits away, lower wages while landlords spike rent -where is the protection for innocent hard working families??????? Someone working 40 hours a week should be able to eat and feed Their kids without a second thought!!!!! not just make some Overseas investor richer!!!!

Rollo Tomasi July 3, 2019 at 3:51 PM

“You’re doing a bad job giving people quality of life.”

And you believe that is the role of government?

jon s July 3, 2019 at 3:22 PM

Ive said this before:The “welcome to Concord” sign at Monument and Mohr lane,said population 99,500 in 1984.I moved away and came back in 1998.The sign said 103,000,14 years later,Not possible,Then in 2001 they changed the sign to 110,000.Now it say 130,000.people in Concord.Concord would try to have you believe that in 35 years,the population has only grown by 31,000 people.Concord,by misinforming the population,you are mistreating every resident in the city.Concord easily has over 200,000 people conservative estimate.

Michael July 3, 2019 at 5:40 PM

My street use to have 14 cars parked on the street back in 2014. Today I have 58 cars during the weekdays and 30 cars on the weekends. Most cars are only there for 30 days and then it is a totally different batch of vehicles the next month.

People are renting rooms within residential homes so they can be closer to work or on short term work assignments. They are not considered residents because the address they are staying at for a week to 3 weeks or a couple of months is not permanent.

Based on craigslist ads for short term room rentals alone in Feb 2019 we had about 110 listings in Concord. 130K is a good estimate until the 2020 census is completed. Latest estimates have Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill at about 100,000 residents combined. The 4 major road arteries have about 30,000 vehicles each on a daily basis (120K) and the MDUSD has about 31,000 students enrolled for grades K-12 (1 out of 4) residents have a grade level child.

No one knows how many residential rentals exist in Concord or how many people are renting at any rental address because the city does not require landlords to be registered with the city.

Most cities charge $49-$99 per year as a business license or permit for any residential property being used as a rental and have better numbers for short term and long term rentals but not Concord.

jon s July 3, 2019 at 10:16 PM

How is one population”more vulnerable” than other populations?

jon s July 3, 2019 at 10:20 PM

Concord,maybe realize that those with 12 people in a household that are afraid of being discovered,won’t be very truthful on census forms.Maybe just seeing an enormous water bill or electricity bill for a small apt with many people could tell the right story.

Michael July 4, 2019 at 5:27 PM

John S-History has shown what happens when elite classes decide to move into an area and force all of its residents out. Vail Colorado is a prime example of what could become of the Bay Area in the next 20 years

1998 Story-https://www.nytimes.com/1998/11/05/us/cry-of-wealthy-in-vail-not-in-our-playground.html

2019 Story-https://www.outtherecolorado.com/colorado-springs-no-longer-a-cheap-place-to-live/

Currently you would need the following for $600,000 home-

1. Household Income of $125K
2. 20% Down payment of $120K

Note: 50% of all homes in California below $500K are purchased as all cash the past 2 years.

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