A 182 square foot “private, stylish, fully furnished Tiny House” was available for rent last week on Zillow, the Long Beach Post reported Friday. According to the seller, it had just about everything you need, except for space of course, for $1,675 a month.
While this may seem like a high price for a small space, this is just an example of a larger trend: in Long Beach, rent prices are getting higher and are less affordable for students at Long Beach State and in the community.
According to RentCafé, a data site that looks at the rent of apartment complexes with 50 units or more, the average price of rent has increased 1 percent, from $1,848 to $1,875 since the previous year.
Maria Lopez, director of Community Organizing at Housing Long Beach said rent increase is not surprising as it has been happening for the past 5 years.
“Folks are still coming in … with a $200 dollar rent increase, a $500 dollar rent increase, [even] a $600 rent increase,” Lopez said.
Housing Long Beach works to help renters stay in their homes or find a new home, and assists with legal representation for tenants who are facing harassment or eviction from their landlords.
“There have been cases of students not getting their deposits back, there have been cases of students, multiple students, seven to a two bedroom, and their conditions are really bad,” Lopez said. “They have vermin or their water doesn’t heat up appropriately or there’s outlets that haven’t worked since they moved in.”
The average rent for some neighborhoods near LBSU include $1,932 in Park Estates and the traffic circle area, and $2023 in Bixby Hill and Los Altos. According to Lopez, landlords around college campuses take advantage of students, but sometimes tenants are too afraid to speak up and risk losing their home.
While there are other housing options for students, primarily on-campus housing, these alternatives are still expensive.
Freshman Italia Dutton was considering California State University Northridge when making her college choice a year ago. If she had chosen CSUN, she would have been paying about $6,699 per year for a double occupancy apartment with a kitchen, living and dining area, and possibly an added balcony.
Duton ended up enrolling at LBSU regardless of the extra $1,000 cost to dorm here.
However, Dutton described her experience in campus housing as “shit.”
Currently, it is $7,650 a year to live at a double occupancy dorm on campus, according to the Housing and Residential Life website. This does not include the price of a meal plan, which is a mandatory purchase since most of the residential halls do not have a kitchen.
Since 2013, LBSU’s campus housing costs, including meal plans, have risen an average of $1,000, which makes living on campus less feasible for students like Dutton who rely on loans and financial aid. This trend is common among all CSU’s, as LBSU’s annual housing cost is more than $2,000 the national average.
“What we’re paying for is not worth what we’re getting,” said Dutton, who lives in Beachside College, LBSU’s off-campus housing building.
Some students do find the conveniences of living on-campus worth the rising cost. Anthony Colby spent his first three years at LBSU in Parkside College housing, paying his rent completely with financial aid. Now in his fourth year, he’s switched over to Beachside College.
The 21-year-old said that in his three years at Parkside College, he never had any trouble with rent costs, and the switch to Beachside College happened for no good or bad reason.
The high prices may serve as a burden for students who face other financial struggles. A 2017 study by the Joint Center for housing studies at Harvard University showed that 21 million households spend more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. According to Lopez, that number can jump to 50 percent or higher.
Rashida Crutchfield, an assistant professor at the school of social work who recently published a study on students who experience homelessness and food insecurity in the CSU system, said rent increases can make it difficult for students to balance the cost of housing and other basic necessities.
“Increase of the cost of housing and the lack of affordable housing definitely has an impact on whether or not a student experiences homelessness,” Crutchfield said.
While there was a recent campaign for rent control, the measure failed to pass on the November 2018 ballot.
“In general, this is an issue that’s important to our students … really critical for the entire CSU Long Beach,” Crutchfield said. “We really need to make a mission … toward having accessible and affordable housing … to ensure equity for all of the people in Long Beach.”
Correction: This story was updated Feb. 7, 2019 to accurately state the on-campus housing rates.