This article originally appeared on The Verge.
Read moreThe city of Oakland is struggling with rising rents and soaring property values.
As one of the city’s most vibrant and well-heeled areas, it has been forced to compete for land, labor, and funding with nearby cities that can provide affordable housing.
But as a city that’s seen some of the highest unemployment rates in the country, many people are increasingly searching for alternatives to the city.
Some are turning to rent-controlled, market-rate housing.
“The people who are struggling the most are the middle class, and they need a way to afford rent,” says Rachel Farrar, who co-owns a low-cost rental unit with a group of other renters.
Farrart, a 29-year-old student, has been renting out a house with a third-floor balcony since February.
She has been on the waitlist for her first unit, but is struggling to find space.
Farshar says the rental market in Oakland is not as appealing as in many other cities.
She’s not sure she can afford to live there any longer.
“It’s a tough place to rent,” she says.
Faring through the recession, she has been able to save for a down payment for her home, and she and her husband have been able, through a partnership with the City of Oakland, to apply for subsidized housing.
She estimates that they’ll have to pay around $2,000 per month in rent, for a one-bedroom, to make ends meet.
“There’s a real disconnect,” she adds.
In addition to housing, Farshart also relies on food banks and food pantries to supplement her income.
Her rent is also paid by the city through a portion of her utility bill, so she’s trying to get an extra $400 a month for her utility, and another $800 for her heating and cooling bills.
Farsal says she’s struggled to find affordable rental space and the only thing she can find are cheaper apartments nearby.
“I know I need to find a place where I can pay a little bit more, but I don’t know how long I can,” she explains.
Fares also has a history of homelessness, which she says she was forced to confront as a young woman.
When she was 15, she lost her parents when she was in the third grade.
When her mother moved from Oakland to the San Francisco Bay Area to be closer to her son, she and Farshars daughter moved into a place she didn’t know about.
“We didn’t have the means,” Farshard says.
“My daughter would say, ‘Oh, I know where you live, I just need to ask.’
And I’d say, Oh, I don,t want to do that.”
Farshsah says she and other renters are not alone.
According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, one in five Americans live below the poverty line, and half of them have lived in some sort of shelter.
But according to the Oakland Alliance for Rebuild, nearly half of the homeless in Oakland have no permanent address, making it harder for them to afford their rent.
In a recent study, researchers found that a quarter of Oakland renters struggle to afford a second home.
And while housing options in Oakland are plentiful, affordability is a tough sell in an area with so many people who rely on public assistance.
Feral says that when she first arrived in Oakland, she was able to get by on food stamps and other public assistance payments, but the state of California began cutting funding to public housing programs in 2014, which made it hard for her to find housing.
“You could say that I had a lot of luck because I did have the financial support, but you could also see the impact on the rest of my family,” she told The Verge in an email.
Fereldan says that she feels the city needs to work harder to help people like her find affordable housing and to address the crisis facing the city in general.
“The only way that we can really fix the housing crisis in Oakland and in Oakland specifically is by having affordable housing in the city,” she said.
Fared says that her husband, who is also unemployed, has also struggled to make rent.
She says he’s had to take on a second job in order to make the rent payments.
Far says she thinks that Oakland has a long way to go to address its housing crisis.
“If you think about all the money that’s being spent, the lack of housing, it’s not enough,” she argues.
“And that’s what we’re going to need to do if we want to address this.”
Fares says that Oakland needs to be proactive in addressing its housing problems, and that it needs to build a stronger network of social service providers.
“When I was growing up, people used to just hang out and get drunk,” she tells The Verge, “Now I have to deal with it every