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Spending more than half your money on rent? You’ve got lots of company in Merced

Construction continues on the Axis at Compass Pointe Apartments located off of Compass Pointe Avenue in Merced, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.
Construction continues on the Axis at Compass Pointe Apartments located off of Compass Pointe Avenue in Merced, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

More than 220,000 households in the Central Valley - and about 10,000 in Merced County - spend at least half their monthly incomes on rent, placing them under a severe cost burden as they try to make ends meet, according to Census data analyzed by a top rental marketing firm.

Apartment List released a report this week showing roughly one out of every four rental households in the nation spends at least 50 percent of their income on rent. The rate is even higher in the Central Valley, where an estimated 27.5 percent of renters have to fork over at least half their incomes to a landlord, according to a McClatchy analysis of the Apartment List data. The Apartment List analysis was based on the most recent U.S. Census data released earlier this month.

Almost 10,000 of Merced County’s 38,000 renters are severely cost burdened, the report shows. The number of people spending half of their income on rent in Merced has grown by close to 4,000 in the past decade.

Nearly 65,000 rental households in Sacramento County alone are severely burdened by rental payments, ranking 19th nationally. Fresno County had about 39,000 severely burdened renters, Kern had 27,000 and San Joaquin about 25,000.

In Madera County, about one-third of rental households are spending half their incomes on rent. Roughly 30 percent of renters in Yolo and Tulare counties face the same hardship.

There was some good news in the data, however. The percentage of Central Valley renters severely burdened by rent decreased slightly from 2016. There were big drops in Fresno and Stanislaus counties, where the median incomes for renters grew significantly between 2016 and 2017, according to the data.

Besides the county data, the figures also showed that some of the Valley’s largest metropolitan areas have a significantly high percentage of renters who are cost burdened. A rental household is considered cost burdened if it is spending at least 30 percent of its income on rent.

While 25.1 percent of Merced’s renters are severely cost burdened, another 28.8 percent are cost burdened. Merced’s housing market also suffers from little new construction in the past decade, according to Apartment List.

The Stockton region had an estimated 52,000 households that were paying at least 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent in 2017, according to the data. That was about 57 percent of the rental households — the eighth-highest rate in the nation among the 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Fresno had roughly 75,000 cost-burdened renters, or roughly 56 percent of those households, good enough for the 12th-highest rate in the country. Sacramento’s cost burden rate of 55 percent was the 15th-highest. An estimated 173,000 renter households in the Sacramento area spent at least 30 percent of their monthly income on rent, according to the data.

About 55 percent of renters in Bakersfield and roughly half the renters in the Modesto area are considered burdened by their monthly payments, according to the Apartment List analysis. About 63 percent of rental households in the Miami area are swamped by their payments, the highest rate in the nation.

*Merced Sun-Star reporter Thaddeus Miller contributed to this report.

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