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An Apartment We Can Afford: the Housing Crisis in the Southern Inland Empire

An+Apartment+We+Can+Afford%3A+the+Housing+Crisis+in+the+Southern+Inland+Empire

Let’s face it: rent prices in the Menifee-Murrieta-Temecula area are getting out of control. For many young adults, apartments are usually viewed as a more “economical” option compared to condominiums or houses that are unaffordable, unattainable, and unrealistic. Young adults in the southern Inland Empire face a crisis as apartments begin to reach that same level of unattainability.

In recent years, living costs have skyrocketed, and unemployment is still increasing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. As of January 2024, California’s unemployment rate was a whopping 5.2%, only slightly less than Nevada’s 5.3% and Puerto Rico’s 5.7%.

In many cases, working full-time isn’t enough.

“Housing prices in the Inland Empire are so high I cannot feasibly move out on my own, even working a full-time job in many cases. This means I have to remain at home with my parents, sacrificing a large part of my independence as a young adult and part of my mental health as well,” says an anonymous 19-year-old Menifee resident.

Avery Saucier

This student’s experience is far from unique. An analysis of the American Community Survey published by CalMatters reported that over 50% of young adults in Temecula live with their parents. The Murrieta-Wildomar and Menifee-Lake Elsinore-Canyon Lake areas hover around 45% and 46%, respectively. For some Californians, this may be a willing decision. For others, there is simply no other option.

“I work a lot,” says another 19-year-old student, “but I make minimum wage, and everything here is so expensive. I don’t know how anyone my age can make it work. When my parents were my age, they moved thousands of miles into a Southern California apartment. I don’t know a single person my age who can even afford to rent a bedroom.”

Rent prices are only one factor of the equation, though. Wage stagnation, grocery prices, and car-dependent infrastructure are other major players in the housing crisis.

“Gas is expensive,” Student #2 says, “and there aren’t any other viable transportation options. Public transport is practically nonexistent. Biking is inaccessible here, and walking is effectively impossible with how spread out everything is. Add in car insurance, registration fees, and general upkeep, too. It’s so expensive, even prohibitive for some people, but there’s no other option.”

Avery Saucier

The mix of low wages, high grocery prices, and transportation costs make for a killer combination when added to the increasingly expensive apartments, which is the biggest contributor to these students’ stress, at least as far as independence goes. Both agreed that public transit and lowered grocery costs, and more government benefits would help, but lowering rent is the biggest priority, whether that happens via state or local government actions. On a state level, Student #1 suggests that elected officials lower the maximum amount that landlords can increase rent by square footage.

On a more local level, Student #2 suggests that city officials rethink their housing regulations, arguing that current requirements lead to a surplus of luxury apartment complexes that no young person can afford.

“I want our local officials to adjust the recommendations (and, in some cases, requirements) for multi-family housing. Temecula, for example, requires common spaces—pools, parks, that sort of thing—in developments that are managed by an HOA. That’s, like, all of them, really. I think those amenities are great, sure, but I cannot find any apartments that don’t have them. It justifies driving the rent prices up. I just want an apartment that I can afford. It doesn’t need all the extra stuff. So many people suggest that I move into an apartment because it’s cheaper, but it still isn’t realistic. When the people working, commuting, and going to school in your city cannot afford to actually live there, you know something is very, very wrong.”

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About the Contributor
Avery Saucier
Avery Saucier, Writer
Hi there! My name is Avery. I'm a journalism major originally from Kingston, Massachusetts. Much of my writing, both formal and informal, focuses on the cultural and sociopolitical changes taking place in the 21st century, especially in today's America. I have some experience writing for a nonprofit organization, and I look forward to continue developing my skills here at the Talon!
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    LauraApr 24, 2024 at 9:14 am

    Who can afford all the apartments they are billing? My husband and I make pretty good money and we have to move out of California to survive. Our government needs to fix what they have broken in California!

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  • P

    Paul HollinsApr 23, 2024 at 2:09 pm

    Truly sad! My thirty-four year old daughter and granddaughter can’t afford to leave my home and get their own. I don’t a way forward for them if things don’t change quickly. At this particular time there is no way humanly possible for them to get their own place.

    Reply