A group of protesters unhappy with the city’s plans gather outside Fresno City Hall before the start of a special meeting of the city council for presentations ofthe City of Fresno’s housing plans in answer to the housing crises Wednesday, April 27, 2022 in Fresno. Credit: Eric Paul Zamora / The Fresno Bee

What's at stake:

While the area is often considered affordable compared to other parts of California, Fresno's housing costs are unaffordable for many who live here.

Fresno ranks among the top 20 most severely cost-burdened cities in the nation for renters and homeowners, according to a July study by SmartAsset, a financial technology company. 

Among the factors contributing to the housing crisis in Fresno are rents and home costs that skyrocketed during the pandemic, low wages and a mismatch of affordable housing needs and availability

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 60% of Fresno renters are cost burdened, meaning they pay more than 30% of their income in rent. Meanwhile, the Smart Asset study found that around 20% are severely cost burdened and pay half or more of their monthly income in rent each month. 

SmartAsset analyzed the largest 150 cities in the nation, ranking them by the percentage of severely cost burdened renters and homeowners, and calculated an average of the two using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. 

Fresno ranked 18th on the list of most severely cost burdened cities in the nation in the SmartAsset study, behind seven other California cities, with Glendale ranking as the most severely cost burdened city in the nation. 

According to the report, about 29% of renters and 10% of homeowners in Fresno are spending more than 50% of their household income on housing costs. 

“Renters tend to be more housing cost-burdened than homeowners,” the report stated. “And while some places are more favorable for renting rather than owning, the financial burden of renting tends to be high in large cities.” 

The Fresno Bee reported Tuesday that census data shows that the percentage of renters paying 30% or more of their income to housing decreases as pay increases. 

 A screenshot of the Out Of Reach National Low Income Housing Coalition map which shows what people would need to make per hour to afford a two-bedroom fair market rate rental in the Fresno area. National Low Income Housing Coalition.

How much money do you need to afford rent in Fresno? 

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the fair market price for a two-bedroom rental in the Fresno metropolitan area in 2022 is $1,137. 

However, the median cost of an available two-bedroom unit in Fresno was $1,319 in July, according to ApartmentList.com, a rental listing website. That’s slightly less than the all-time-high rental prices in June, the Fresno Bee reported. 

But for many Fresnans, the cost of housing is extremely steep. 

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition annual Out Of Reach study which calculates how much someone needs to earn hourly to afford the fair market price per zip code, renters need to earn on average $21 per hour or 1.5 times the minimum wage for a full-time employee in order to afford a $1,137 rental, the fair market price for a two-bedroom apartment in the Fresno area. 

However, the average wage for renters in Fresno is somewhere around $15.53, the study estimates. 

The area median income for Fresno area residents is $53,368 annually; however, among renters, the median income is substantially lower – $34,357, the Fresno Bee reported. According to the Out Of Reach study, an income of $45,480 is needed to afford a two bedroom in the area. 

You can visit the map here to find your area. 

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Cassandra is a housing and engagement reporter with Fresnoland.