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Renter Relief? Bay Area Rents Dip Slightly After Years Of Increases

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – A welcome development for anyone renting in the hot Bay Area market: Rents are dropping slightly after years of steep increases.

Zillow, the online real estate firm, tracked median rents in August and September.

In San Jose, rents were down 0.9 percent compared to a year earlier. Meanwhile in San Francisco, rents dropped by 0.6 percent.

Renters in San Jose say the slight decrease is not enough to make up for years of sharp rent hikes, but they do hope it's the start of a long-term trend.

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Striking Marriott hotel workers have put the high cost of housing at the forefront of their effort to increase wages with the slogan "one job should be enough."

Frank Cave-Lacoste, union worker and a renter, told KPIX 5, "I pay $2,200 a month for a one bedroom apartment with my wife."

He says like many renters in the Bay Area, he's faced with tough choices.

"We think seriously about whether we can afford to have a family here in San Jose because of how much we pay in rent," Cave-Lacoste said.

The 0.9 percent decrease in San Jose rents is small and translates to just a $30 a month savings.

It is the first drop in seven years.

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"It means virtually nothing," said Sandy Perry of the Affordable Housing Network.

Perry said the dip has to be viewed in the context of sky-high rent increases, to the tune of $300 more, every few years.

"If you're paying over half your income in rent, it's not going to solve your problem. Having a $30 decrease is not going to solve your problem," Perry said.

The San Jose Housing Department, which also tracks rents citywide, says it indicates more of a levelling off than a significant price break.

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"Having a levelling off, were hoping can just create a little more stability for our community," said Rachel VanderVeen of the housing department.

Could this be the first signs of a market reaction to the high number of people leaving the Bay Area?

"If enough people make those choices, then there would be less demand on the current housing we have," VanderVeen said.

No one knows if this trend will continue. But housing advocates say the real long-term solution won't happen until this region produces as many new housing units as it does jobs.

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