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If you’re a renter, odds are you’re paying more. See just how much more

Blackstone Avenue redevelopment could add new life to key street

Christina Husbands of the Fresno Housing Authority talks about a proposed mixed-use residential and retail project on Blackstone Avenue in central Fresno, and what plans like it could mean for revitalizing Blackstone Avenue.
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Christina Husbands of the Fresno Housing Authority talks about a proposed mixed-use residential and retail project on Blackstone Avenue in central Fresno, and what plans like it could mean for revitalizing Blackstone Avenue.

Apartment rent prices were on the rise in Fresno compared to a year ago, with the average monthly cost in August more than 5 percent higher than last summer.

A recent analysis by RENTCafe.com surveyed market-rate rents for apartment complexes with more than 50 units in 252 large- and medium-sized cities across the U.S., including 62 in California. The analysis did not cover apartment properties with fewer than 50 units, nor did it include affordable housing for low-income families or single-family homes that are rented to tenants.

Fresno’s average monthly rent rose about 5.1 percent since August 2017, to $1,023 last month compared to about $973 a year ago. In neighboring Clovis, the percentage increase was 5.5 percent, from about $1,003 a year ago to an average monthly rent rate of $1,059.

Still, rents in Fresno and Clovis were lower than every other California city except for Bakersfield. Bakersfield, in fact, was the only city in the report where the average market-rate rent was under $1,000 per month in August.

The average rents in cities across the Central Valley, from Sacramento to Bakersfield, are lower than the state’s large urban centers in the Bay Area and Southern California. The highest rents in the state were found in San Francisco, where the average rent last month was almost $3,600, and San Mateo, with an average rent of more than $3,200.

The highest rate of average rent increase was in the Mojave Desert city of Lancaster, where the year-over-year rate rose by almost 10 percent to $1,274 per month.

Nationwide, the average market-rate rent climbed by 3.1 percent to an all-time high of $1,412 per month in August 2018, RENTCafe.com and Yardi Matrix reported.

In Fresno, as in other communities, rents are largely a matter of supply and demand. Nationally, rents are rising as construction of new apartments slows down after a six-year run of increases. Across Fresno County, RENTCafe.com estimated that about 405 new apartments were due to be added to the rental inventory this year – fewer new units than all but 10 of the 101 largest metropolitan markets in the nation.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s estimates for 2016 – the most recent data available – indicates that the vacancy rate for rental properties in Fresno County is less than 3.5 percent. Nearly half of the county’s 303,200 housing units are renter-occupied. The Census estimates, however, make no distinction between market-rate apartments and affordable housing.

Earlier this year, the California Housing Partnership Coalition and the Fresno Housing Authority issued a report indicating that there is a need for more than 60,000 affordable rental units for low-income or very low-income families. But fewer than 21,000 such units exist in Fresno County.

The Census Bureau estimated that more than half of Fresno County renters paid at least 35 percent of their household income for rent. Among low-income households, however, the proportion of income spent on rent was almost 75 percent, according to the California Housing Partnership Coalition/Fresno Housing Authority report, leaving a quarter of their household income for food, transportation, health care and other family needs.

Tim Sheehan: 559-441-6319; Twitter: @TimSheehanNews.
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