For some, living in the Bay Area is unaffordable


Steven Damron/CC BY 2.0

Renting an apartment in the Bay Area is costly. As such, some Bay Area residents, such as teacher Paula Washington, create a monthly budgets to make sure they budgets their income appropriately while living in the expensive Bay Area.

Maya Benjamin, Staff Writer

In the expensive Bay Area, every penny is spent carefully by San Francisco school teacher, Paula Washington*.

And she’s not the only one.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an income for a family of four of $105,350 is considered low income in both the San Mateo and San Francisco county.

In comparison, in Fulton County, Atlanta, a low income a family of four is one that makes below $55,000.

“I think it’s depressing especially for people who choose nonprofit careers. It’s making career choices that are not high-income choices less desirable, ” said Washington.

After moving to the Bay Area in 2006 from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Washington had difficulty finding an affordable apartment.

Washington said, “My studio apartment was around $1,500 a month. That was more than half than what I made in a month.”

In 2008, Washington entered a lottery for affordable housing through the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development program.

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development program is a lottery system that awards affordable housing for people making less than six figures in a year.

Thanks to this program, Washington now lives in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.

“I pay a little over $1,000 a month. People say that your housing should cost around a third of your monthly income, and I’m in a healthy place with that guideline,” said Washington.

However, budgeting her money appropriately in an expensive city is hard.

Washington said, “There are some experiences that I do miss out on but I have to stick with my budget to make sure I’m not adjusting it for the next month.”

Washington isn’t alone in trying to budget properly each month.

Non-profit worker Leslie Campbell struggles to make ends meet due to the high cost of living in San Mateo county.

“I live month to month. Some months are better than others depending on the expenses I have that month,” said Campbell.

Despite the Bay Area’s high cost of living, Washington wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

“I love that I have access to world class, food, entertainment and experiences that I couldn’t get anywhere else in the world,” said Washington.

*Some names have been changed to protect the identity of those interviewed.