Sacramento Lags on New Housing Inventory as Rent Prices Continue to Climb

SACRAMENTO -- There are rent increases and then there are rent spikes.

"$692 plus utilities, which is $50 more ... so $750-something," said Sacramento resident Elizabeth Morales.

And it's going up again this summer to more than $1,000.

Morales may feel trapped. But she's not alone.

Nancy Avalos said her rent is $730, but it's going up to $1,025 this summer.

They are feeling the pinch of Sacramento's spiraling home rental market -- but increases like that aren't the only headline.

"We are also ranked dead last in the nation, among the top 25 metropolitan markets, for new construction of housing," said Jim Lofgren, executive director with the Sacramento Valley Rental Housing Association.

Lofgren says there's one way, and one way only, out of the stifling increases -- inventory.

"We need to build, baby, build," Lofgren said.

Lofgren says too much environmental regulation, not enough available financing and people fighting new apartment complexes in their neighborhoods have all conspired to keep the supply of apartment rentals low. But now he's fighting a different idea for how to deal with it.

"We knocked on thousands of doors here in Sacramento, and the No. 1 issues that came of the conversation was the need for rent control and tenant protections," said Jovana Fajardo, with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

Lofgren argues rent control will only worsen the problem by scaring off investors who might otherwise build new rental properties in Sacramento.

"We could always use more affordable housing for our communities. So ACCE has always supported more affordable housing for low-income families. But that will take years, and we need something now," Fajardo said.

It's unclear how quickly rent control laws or the bureaucracy to enforce them could be put in place.

Both sides agree, finding a solution is urgent.

"I don't know. I'm a single mom of three babies. It's too hard for me now," Avalos said.