Renters Deal With Rising Costs, Housing Crisis in San Mateo County

Renters on the Peninsula are having a tough time keeping up with the rising cost of housing.

The average cost of a one-bedroom unit in San Mateo County has gone up $600 in the past six years, now topping $2,000 a month.

"We are actually in a crisis in San Mateo County," said Kate Comfort Harr, executive director of HIP Housing, a non-profit aimed at helping renters find affordable homes. "We have very little inventory of affordable housing."

Comfort Harr said the foreclosure crisis has added to the problem, leaving more displaced people searching for rentals that are not available. Many are being forced out of the county or in some cases pushed into homeless shelters.

"We think it's a tragedy," she said. "We have families and people who are hard working looking for a place to live."

65-year-old Bob Riley is one of them. Riley recently lost his lease when his landlord decided he wanted to move back in. He's been looking through rental listings for weeks, but so far, no luck.

"I was even promised a place, then the guy gave it to someone else. So it's been really hard. I hate going through this," Riley said.

But Riley's determined to stay in San Mateo County. He's lived and worked there for 21 years and said he isn't about to relocate. He's found a temporary place to stay, but his search for a long-term rental continues.

"I'll just be glad when it's over and I get into a decent place," he said.

At one affordable housing complex in South San Francisco, 2,000 people are currently on the waiting list for a spot.

“We have more people seeking rental housing than we have space for," Comfort Harr said, "and we have a crisis in how much it costs if you do find a space."

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