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Stockton Struggles with Soaring Rent, Sparse Housing Inventory

‘Unaffordable Housing’ is a 30-minute special airing tonight at 6:30 on FOX40 News. See one of the segments below now.

STOCKTON -- Like so many people in Stockton, Karen Manning's funds are limited.

"I have problems like everybody else but I live in a clean, safe environment," she said, showing off her modest apartment. "I get $898 a month from Social Security and I'm grateful for that."

Manning's rent is $250 a month.

"I'm able to volunteer, I’m able to go down to mental health to go to for socialization and learn tools," Manning said.

The executive director of Central Valley Low Income Housing, Bill Mendelson, says they are trying to help as many people like Manning as they can.

"The biggest problem we’re facing and our target population -- our folks who are homeless -- is identifying housing units that are available," Mendelson said.

He says affordable housing, like the soon-to-be-completed Anchor Village, are few and far between. He and other city leaders are trying to work with property owners to house more people.

"We started trying to offer incentives to landlords to make units available," Mendelson said.

According to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, the number of affordable rental units needed in the state is around 1.5 million. The number produced yearly is just 7,000.

"So we're not keeping pace with the supply and demand that we have in California," Peter Ragsdale, executive director of the San Joaquin County Housing Authority, told FOX40.

Ragsdale says rent in Stockton has gone up at least 21 percent in the last five years.

"Rising rents mean people are at that breaking point of affordability," he said. "They simply are pushed out of the market."

Ragsdale says the medico artist lofts will be constructed within two years. The space will become a mixed-used, mixed-income housing development which means at least 34 families could be living in this space. There is a preference for artists.

As for Manning, the Stockton grandmother says she is a recovering heroin addict, once homeless and once hopeless, but she wants to do her part of getting more people into affordable housing by sharing her story of how life was, and how life can be.

"See, when you’re out there on the street, it’s hard for you to get up every morning and face the day," Manning said. "Thank God I'm home."