As part of the City of Oakland’s A Roadmap Toward Equity report, Urban Strategies Council prepared a comprehensive data profile of the City’s current housing situation. By every measure, Oakland is in the midst of an affordability crisis: the vast majority of residents cannot afford to buy a home, nor would they be able to afford the market rent price in the same neighborhoods they currently call home.

Declining Household Incomes

Since 2000, median household incomes for African-American and Latino communities have dropped $8,000 and $9,000, respectively. Oakland’s housing sales and rental prices have climbed steadily over that same period, leaving Black and Latino families disproportionately affected by gaps in affordability.

income by ethnicity


Oakland’s Rental Prices Are Out Of Reach for Majority

Oakland experienced the second highest rent increases in the nation last year, and while this increase has not been felt uniformly, many residents are still faced with overwhelming housing costs leading to a steady flow of stories about renter displacement.

To understand what this income loss means for local housing affordability, we mapped Oakland’s median rent prices by neighborhood (we roughly mapped census tracts to neighborhoods; see below). When we paired neighborhood rent prices in early 2014 with the median family income for each neighborhood, we found that almost none of Oakland’s neighborhoods were affordable to the average family living there currently.


rent map

Estimated Median Household Income (2008-12 ACS) for Select Oakland Neighborhoods.


incomes by neighborhood


For example, the median income for families living in the Cox neighborhood is $35,230; an affordable housing cost for the average family in this neighborhood would be $881 a month based on that income. However the current average rental price for this neighborhood is approximately $1,760, or roughly double the value affordable to the average family. While these values represent median incomes and median rent for a community, a more typical scenario would see a family spending somewhere near 60% of their income on rent, were that family seeking rental housing on the market as of April 2014; all indicators suggest that families are faring worse in 2015. Likewise, the average family living in Glenview (Tract 4049) has an income of $69,474, but that same family would need to pay around $2,550 a month and more than $30,000 a year to afford rent in their neighborhood – almost half of their total income.


Renter Costs Compared to Median Household Income for Select Oakland Neighborhoods.




Conclusion: High Rent Prices Paired with Lower Incomes Leaves Oakland Residents Vulnerable to Displacement

Oakland may be a turnaround town, and now one of the hottest housing markets in the country, but it is not, however, an affordable place to live nor to raise a family. While Oakland enjoys a legacy as a great place to call home, capable of attracting families from near and far to plant proverbial roots, the city now suffers from a housing market that is much less welcoming; the vast majority of Oaklanders would not be able to secure housing affordable to them if they needed to and many devote alarming portions of their income to housing costs. This situation sets the context for a wave of displacement along with a growing number of residents trapped in their current housing situations.

This data profile provides key information about our current residents, our housing stock and its condition, and Oakland’s current market alongside some perspectives on what it looks like to buy or rent now in the Town. We hope this data profile will be useful in helping you tell your story!

Read the Housing Equity Data Profile here.

Policy Recommendations and Action Steps

The broader Roadmap report, produced by PolicyLink and the City of Oakland is now publicly available. A Roadmap Toward Equity analyzes the depth of the housing problem and presents more than a dozen policy solutions for preventing displacement, increasing the stock of affordable housing, and improving housing habitability for all Oakland residents.

This Roadmap is not a formal policy; rather, it is a set of suggested policies and projects. If you care about housing equity, affordability and displacement, this report is worth reading.