Affordable Housing Special

Housing Special Full Audio

Jan 17, 2018

Through the reporting of NSPR’s News Team, you’ll hear about the current state of our region’s housing market, from people whose rent costs them most of what they bring home on their paycheck, from students who’ve struggled to find housing while they attend Chico State, from a once homeless veteran who now has a stable roof over her head, and from the wife of a farmworker who this holiday season had a place that she and her family could call their own. 

No longer working and a part of what she calls the “movers and shakers” of society, Melissa Reid says she’s been putting a lot of her focus on plants.

“I’ve been doing a lot of gardening,” she says, laughing.

It’s obvious by her back porch.

Lacking lures found elsewhere, the North State has long viewed itself as distinct. A sort of under-the-radar California. Sure, our surf breaks are behind boats, and we lack movie moguls and high-tech business parks, but we’re not choking on traffic, and most are winning the struggle to keep a roof over their head. Though some of that may be changing.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (or HUD), a household is defined as rent burdened when tenants pay more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent, and across California it’s pretty common. Data collected in 2016 by the U.S. Census Bureau showed a little over half of the households across California were experiencing rent burden, and 29 percent were experiencing severe rent burden, which means they were paying more than half of their income on rent.

Suzi Rosenberg / Flickr

As rent prices rise across California, many struggle to find safe and affordable housing. But students face additional difficulties when they come to a new town, have little rental history and the additional burden of paying for their education.  

For Chico State students on a budget, affordable housing exists, but it often comes with other costs. Finding a cheap place to rent often means having more roommates than you’d prefer, signing a fixed-term lease, or living in a location that isn’t ideal.

Agriculture is a major industry in a number of counties in the North State. In Yuba, Sutter, Glenn, Colusa and Butte counties agriculture brings in millions of dollars each year, as well as thousands of migrant and seasonal workers. But while the industry is a huge boon for the North State’s economy, it often struggles to sustain those arriving to help bring in the harvest. Rosa and Jesus Vargas are a young Orland couple, both in their 20s, who are building their lives together, in part, on farmworker wages.