The city already has some of the worst poverty and segregation rates in the country. Now increasing rents are leaving low-income households struggling to keep up with the cost of living.
In the 40-minute bus ride across San Antonio that Barbie Hammond takes to work, there’s one topic of conversation that keeps coming up: the cost of rent.
“A lady that I talk to on the bus told me she had to move because of the rent increases,” the 57-year-old said. “And I told her, ‘Well, when Christmastime came, I got a note saying that the next month there will be a $60 increase in my apartment.’”
Hammond isn’t alone. According to census data compiled by the company Apartment List, between 2008 and 2018, median rents increased from $860 to $1,002 in the San Antonio area. That 16.5% jump was more than the increase in the New York City region and almost the same as in the Los Angeles area.
Similar increases happened in the Dallas (18.7%) and Houston (16.1%) regions, but there’s something that makes the San Antonio area unique: While rents have been growing, wages have stagnated. Renters’ median incomes grew from $35,718 to $36,959 during the same period. That 3.5% increase was a third of the percentage growth seen in the Houston area and a fourth of the growth in the Dallas region. Those rent and wage figures were all adjusted for inflation.
The situation has people like Hammond, who is a certified assistant nurse, living paycheck to paycheck.
“I haven’t seen a pay increase in … I can’t even remember,” Hammond said. “Most of the jobs here are not gonna pay me more. San Antonio needs to catch up.”