The affordable housing crisis has arrived in Half Moon Bay, and survey and census data indicate that Latinos appear to be squeezed hardest by rising rents and skyrocketing home values.

Nearly 95 percent of respondents to a recent survey that canvassed about 250 Latino Coastsiders, said their family earned less than $125,000 in the previous year, the income a Half Moon Bay family needs to pull in to make rent. The average rent in Half Moon Bay is about $3,100 per month according to a city of Half Moon Bay report issued in July. Federal policy states that households that spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs are rent-burdened. Data from a 2017 county report indicates that nearly half of the households in Half Moon Bay carry such a burden.

Statewide data demonstrates a similar pattern. A 2018 study found that 58 percent of low-income Latino homeowners and 75.2 percent of low-income Latino renters are overburdened by housing.

Overcrowding remains a significant issue, too. Half of the Latino residents surveyed in 2017 said they lived with at least one other family. One respondent said their family shares a home with six other families. 

Abundant Grace Coastside Worker Executive Director Eric DeBode said overcrowding is unique to the Latino community.

“How many white families do you know who are doubled in housing?” he said. “Not a one.”

According to 2017 Census data, 5.6 percent of rooms in Half Moon Bay are occupied by more than one person. That is less than the rate across San Mateo County (7.7 percent) and the state as a whole (8.2), but nearly 70 percent above the national average. The federal government considers a home overcrowded if there is more than one occupant per room. California is home to more than a quarter of the nation’s overcrowded units —  1,056,579 — according to the last available data.

DeBode highlighted the importance of ample living space for families.

“The more that you can have single-family units, the more space adults and children have, the less is the likelihood of passing communicable diseases, the more likely the child is going to be able to find a quiet place to study,” he said.

Though many Latino Coastsiders have lived in the United States and paid rent for decades, access to homeownership is nearly hopeless for those who are low-income. The median mortgage in Half Moon Bay is $3,234 per month, according to 2017 U.S. Census Bureau data. A family would need to earn nearly $130,000 per year to pay such a mortgage and not be cost-burdened according to federal standards. 

As a remedy, DeBode suggested the city only permit low-income or extremely low-income housing for a period of time.

“That’s where the greatest need is … ” he said. “It’s not people with an income of $70,000 -— it’s people with an income of $28,000 or 30,000.” 

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