U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Community Planning and Development

Consolidated Plan Contact


The 1990 census indicates that Berkeley has a total population of 102,724 and 43,549 households. However, more recent California Department of Finance estimates place the City's 1993 population at approximately 105,000. Berkeley is a racially and economically diverse city. Its most unusual feature is that students (University of California) make up over one quarter of its population. The City's homeless population numbers approximately 1,000 to 1,200 persons at any given time.

Action Plan

Berkeley's Consolidated Plan presents a strategic vision for housing and community development. It includes a One-Year Action Plan for spending approximately 11.3 million in federal and local government funds. Approximately $800,00 is targeted for various housing rehabilitation/repair programs. Approximately $3,000,000 is committed to supportive housing and social services for homeless persons from both City services and those available from service providers.

Citizen Participation

The citizen participation process for the Consolidated Plan was integrated into the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)/Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) application process. The development of the City's Plan was done in coordination with relevant City departments, community organizations, interested parties, and regional entities.

The Housing Advisory Commission held a public hearing on December 1, 1994, to obtain community input on needs and priorities prior to drafting the Draft Plan. Notice of the hearing was published in the Berkeley Voice on November 22, 1994. On April 11, 1995, the City Council held a public hearing on the Draft Plan. Notices were placed in the Daily Californian on March 24, 1995, and in the Berkeley Voice on March 30, 1995. Notices were also sent to those on the Community Development Department's interest list for housing-related matters, to the City of Oakland, Alameda County, and posted in front of City Hall. A copy of the Draft Plan was placed in the Main Library and the City's four branch libraries, the Community Development Department, and the City Manager's Office. The public hearing was aired on the radio and on cable television. On May 16, 1995, the City Council approved the Plan.


According to the 1990 Census, Whites (Non-Hispanic) constituted 64 percent of the population, Blacks (Non-Hispanic) were 20 percent, Asians were 16 percent, and Hispanics were 8 percent. Racial diversity is not even throughout the City, however, Blacks are fewer than 10 percent of the population in 17 of Berkeley's 30 census tracts, covering the entire east side and most of the north of the City, while they are a majority in four tracts in South and West Berkeley. These are the only tracts in which a single minority group constitutes a majority of the population. A combination of Black, Asian and Hispanic people make up over half of the population in the rest of West Berkeley, Central Berkeley, and tract 4228 in the South Campus area. There have been significant changes in racial composition since the 1980 Census, partly due to changes in the composition of the student population. From 1980 to 1990 there was a decline of approximately nine percent in both White and Black populations and a significant increase in the Asian and Hispanic population. Most of the loss of White population can be attributed to the decline in the number of White students which fell by 25 percent. There was an increase in Black students, however, and a decline of 11 percent in the non-student Black population. Major increases in the Asian and Hispanic student population accounted for a considerable portion, but not all, of the increase in the Asian and Hispanic population.

In 1990, unemployment was lower in Berkeley (5.6 percent) than in the State as a whole (9.7 percent), but with the severe California recession both rates are undoubtedly much higher in 1995. Unemployment is highest for Blacks (14 percent in 1990, reaching a high of 18 percent for Black males) and lowest for Whites at 3.2 percent in 1990. The level of unemployment for Asians was 5 percent and 6 percent for Hispanics. According to the 1990 Census, median income in Berkeley in 1989 was $29,737 compared to $37,544 for Alameda County as a whole. This largely reflects the higher proportion of tenants in the Berkeley population. Mean incomes for homeowners in Berkeley are actually higher than in Alameda County, while renters in Berkeley have somewhat lower incomes. It should also be noted that the median for Berkeley tenants is also affected by a substantial number of university student households. Most student households have very low incomes and often need affordable housing while they are in school.

Among cities in Alameda County, Berkeley is second only to Oakland (with a poverty rate of 18.8 percent) in proportion of residents living in poverty. The overall figure for Alameda County is 10.6 percent. Again, it is important to keep in mind that Berkeley's figures include students. However, there are a considerable number of non-student households who fall below the poverty line.



Maintaining housing affordability is a high City priority, especially for low income renter households. These households pay an inordinate amount of their income for housing, whether they are large or small, disabled or elderly. The City proposes two types of programs: first, subsidized housing that rents or is sold at below-market rates to low- income people and second, subsidies to tenants who can then afford to rent housing on the open market. Between 1995 and the year 2000, the City intends to increase by as many as 400 the number of below-market rate units permanently affordable to low-income people, using a combination of new construction and acquisition and rehabilitation of existing housing.

Improvement of public facilities is an important part of Berkeley's development plan. It is estimated that approximately 9 million of CDBG- eligible activities would be needed to meet some of the high priority needs.

Housing Needs

Almost half (48 percent) of Berkeley renters have housing problems of some kind, mostly overpayment of rent. Twenty eight percent (28%) of all owner households have housing problems. The difference between renters and owners is in large part accounted for by income, as only 30 percent of owners have incomes below 95 percent of median while 73 percent of renters fall in that category.

Housing problems (both homeowners and renter households) decrease as income increases. The number of large related households is small but they are the ones with the highest percentage of housing problems and are much more subject to overcrowding. The 1990 Census indicates that overcrowding is not a problem in Berkeley except for large-sized households.

Approximately a quarter of small related households are poor, the vast majority of these (85 percent) have housing problems. Surprisingly, elderly homeowners have the lowest rate of housing problems with an overall figure of 19 percent. However, the picture changes substantially for very low income elderly persons, whether they are homeowners or tenants. For example, 68 percent of seniors in the extremely low- income category have housing problems. In total, there are 1,296 elderly tenants and 1,056 elderly owners with housing problems.

Housing Market Conditions

There are a total of 45,735 units in Berkeley, 43,453 of which are occupied. The 1990 Census indicates that Berkeley has an aging housing stock, with 54 percent of housing units built prior to 1940, another 5,858 (13 percent) built between 1940 and 1959, and 12,019 (26 percent) built between 1960-1979 and the remaining 7 percent (3,332) built since 1980. A comparison of 1980 and 1990 Census data shows a major shift in tenure, with renter households dropping from 63 percent to 56 percent and homeowners increasing from 37 percent to 44 percent in 1990. Two main reasons for that shift were the drastic increase in home prices, which made sale of rental units to homeowners economically attractive, especially among single-family and duplex units, and strong rent control, which reduced the profitability of rental housing to a modest level to keep it more affordable and thus increased the spread between rental profitability and the profitability of sale to owner- occupants.

The 1990 Census places the City's vacancy rate at 3.08 percent. Since 1990, the Rent Stabilization Board has allowed average rent increases in Berkeley of approximately 50 percent. The City estimates that current rent prices are approximately 10 - 15 percent below market rents, the rents they would have without controls. There is a high percentage of substandard housing in both rental units (46 percent) and homeowners units (36 percent).

Clearly rent control has substantial limits in its ability to solve the housing problems of the poor. Even under the strong rent control system in place in 1990, two-thirds of the extremely low-income tenants were paying over 50 percent of their income for rent. These rent burdens have been substantially worsened by major rent increases since 1990 and the private market is no longer able to provide much affordable housing for low-income tenants.

Affordable Housing Needs

In 1990 there were a total of 10,248 low and moderate-income households who were cost- burdened. They were paying over 30 percent of their income for housing costs (1,296 elderly, 1886 small families: 2 to 4 related persons, 159 large families, and 6,907 others).

Severe affordability problems are concentrated among the low-income population, 91 percent of who are tenants. Among tenant households with extremely low incomes, 81 percent (6,144) pay over 30 percent of income for housing and 66 percent (4,982) pay over half of income for housing. Among low-income tenant households, 65 percent (2,741) pay over 30 percent of their income for housing and 18 percent (757) pay over half of their income.

The 1990 census indicates that there were a total of 1,448 family households with incomes at 50 percent or below of median who were paying over half of their income for rent (878 renters and 550 owners); of these, 674 were senior households.

For purposes of determining need for housing assistance, the City deals separately with student and non-student low-income households. More than two-thirds of the students in Berkeley attend the University of California and are only temporarily low-income.

The affordability of the owner-occupied housing situation is likely to have increased slightly since 1990, which was the point at which housing prices were at their highest. At that time the median home price for a single family house was $256,500. Local realtors and appraisers estimate that there has been about a 10 percent reduction in prices since that time, particularly on the lower end of the market.

Homeless Needs

Alameda County estimates that at any given time there are between 9,000 and 15,000 homeless people and that three times that number are homeless at some time during a year. Northern Alameda County (Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont and the City of Alameda) have about 60 percent of that number, from 5,500 to 9,000 homeless people. The County currently has 825 shelter beds, plus another 94 beds reserved for Alameda County residents but located in Richmond, CA, and a few additional beds available on an emergency basis in winter. This means that there is emergency shelter for about ten percent of the homeless population. In addition, there is transitional housing, where people can stay for six months to two years and receive intensive social service support to prepare them for independent living. There are 173 transitional beds in shared living quarters plus 115 transitional units, mostly for families. Shelters for domestic violence are in particularly short supply, given the urgency of the need, with 80 percent of people asking for shelter turned away due to lack of space.

Local service providers estimate that Berkeley's homeless population is at least 1,000 to 1,200 people at any given time. The 1990 Census counted 765 homeless people in Berkeley, a figure that is an under count given the difficulty of locating people sleeping outdoors or in automobiles).

Public and Assisted Housing Needs

The Section 8 Existing Housing Programs (Section 8 Certificates, Section 8 vouchers, and the State Section 8 Aftercare programs) administered by the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA), represent the largest source of government-assisted housing in Berkeley, contributing 1,630 units of federally-assisted privately-owned housing. The BHA administers 1,899 certificates and vouchers. Households with Section 8 assistance are located throughout the City, but the majority of them are located in South and West Berkeley.

The BHA owns and manages 75 units of public housing units in Berkeley. Fourteen of these units were built in 1983 under the State Rental Housing Construction program, and 61 units in 1988 under the federal Low Income Housing program. These public housing units are scattered throughout the City. Apart from general maintenance, the PHA plans to undertake changes valued at approximately $80,000 to windows, doors, and lighting (adding motion sensors) to increase safety for the occupants living in the public housing and to increase energy efficiency. The BHA also manages three units owned by the Berkeley Redevelopment Agency. In addition, the BHA oversees 74 units of Section 8 Moderate Rehab program (which provides affordable housing to very low income individuals). Also, there are 1,101 units which were built or acquired and rehabilitated by non-profit organizations with federal assistance. Half of these units are reserved for the elderly.

Barriers to Affordable Housing

Physical, economic and governmental constraints impact meeting housing goals. Physically, Berkeley is a developed city without major areas of vacant or under-utilized land suitable for housing construction. Therefore, new housing development must take place slowly through in-fill scattered vacant and under-utilized properties. Market constraints place severe pressures on housing and land costs and affect home purchase prices as well. The City also places local constraints on housing production (e.g., project review process, demolition controls, close environmental scrutiny). These controls serve the purpose of protecting other public values such as preservation of neighborhood amenities and the quality of life of Berkeley residents. At times, there is lack of coordination between the various controlling entities which increases the environment of uncertainty that developers face.

Fair Housing

The City actively promotes fair housing and discourages housing discrimination by funding a fair housing agency and coordinating with that organization to implement the City's anti- housing discrimination program including:

In addition, the City requires an affirmative marketing plan from individuals or entities receiving City loans.

Lead-Based Paint

Almost all of Berkeley's housing (about 44,300 dwelling units out of 45,735) was built before 1978 and are likely to contain lead-based paint. The 1990 Census showed 5,506 dwelling units occupied by children under the age of six. Since 1991, the City of Berkeley has had an agreement with Alameda County to join in its Lead-Based Paint Abatement program. Alameda County received a two-year 9 million federal grant for the entire county. It intends to contract with the City to provide training for eight inspectors, pay for laboratory analysis and provide rehabilitation matching grants of up to $5,000 on 40 of the City's rehabilitation projects.

Other Issues

Efforts to reduce homelessness are among the largest and most complex of the City's housing-related undertakings. Therefore, the City will develop a Homeless Continuum of Care Plan and an AIDS Housing Plan which will be done in conjunction with similar regional planning efforts undertaken by Alameda County. In addition, the City has created a new Homeless Preventive Services Program. The program includes improvement of shelter facilities, increasing hours of operations and services at two drop-in centers and creating two new multi-purpose daytime facilities, increase in dadoes services, and activities to minimize negative contacts between the homeless and other Berkeley residents and visitors. Job training is an important component of encouraging homeless persons towards greater self-sufficiency.

During the coming year, the city will encourage private non-profit and for-profit developers to create housing affordable to low and moderate income people through acquisition, rehabilitation, and new construction. The City is encouraging the provision of services in housing projects targeted to those with special needs.

Community Development Needs

The City has identified a series of community development needs and plans to address those needs through funding community services, creating and maintaining housing, infrastructure improvement, economic development, and other activities to revitalize low income areas without directly or indirectly causing displacement but directly benefit residents. The City's overall economic development plan is to create a sustainable economy with emphasis on environmentally positive businesses (including recycling industries) which can create well- paying jobs for Berkeley residents. The plan has the goal of helping both residents of the Neighborhood Strategy area (NSA) and other low income persons, especially youth, living in Berkeley to find and keep employment.


The City intends to coordinate and consolidate programs to allow more efficient use of resources and better service delivery. Areas of focus include:


Vision for Change

The City's vision for change include continuing housing programs to assist extremely low, low and moderate income households. In addition, the City proposes to continue to use the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance to require that new housing developments make at least ten percent of the units permanently affordable to moderate income households and provide other assistance through the Housing Trust Fund to projects that create more affordable units and greater affordability than required.

Housing and Community Development Objectives and Priorities

The City will continue to maintain the current CDBG Neighborhood Strategy Area as the point of focus for revitalization activities. The NSA is where a large percentage of the residents have income that is 80 percent of the area median or below. The housing stock is old with many units (both renters and homeowners) in need of repair, and an area with a large minority population. West Berkeley contains a higher portion -- 10 percent or more than the City average -- of Hispanic population. Both West and South Berkeley contain a large Black population. The Asian population, Berkeley's other significant minority population, is spread fairly equally throughout the City.

Within the NSA, the City Council has created the South Berkeley revitalization Plan with a variety of programs being implemented to help improve that area. In terms of crime prevention, the City has undertaken a variety of police actions to curtail drug trafficking and other crime in the area which includes placing a small satellite police station in South Berkeley and creating a Special Community Services Office in the City Manager' Office to work with the community to help resolve crime problems.

Many individuals and organizations have already committed voluntary time and labor to help revitalize the area and the City would like to encourage revitalization primarily through community-based organizations.

Housing Priorities

The City proposes to give equal priority to large and small households. Small related families paying over 30 percent of their rent are expected to be the largest beneficiaries of Berkeley housing programs, since the vast majority of Berkeley's population live in small households. Those paying over 50 percent of their income for rent are most likely to benefit from additional Section 8 certificates or other possible tenant-based assistance.

The City will take a pro-active stance in helping reduce the poverty level of those living in assisted housing programs by making them aware of existing job training and job placement programs and encouraging and facilitating their use. Persons with special needs will also be a target population for job creation under the City's economic development plan. The City will also emphasize housing for persons with AIDS, connecting those assisted through housing programs with job training, job placement, and job creation programs.

Non-Housing Community Development Priorities

Non-housing community development priorities for Berkeley include physical improvement of existing community facilities and programs to increase their uses and creation of new ones to not only provide needed services to the residents but also help promote physical appearance of the area. Especially important at these centers would be services geared towards the youth ($2 million).

Three major development projects are also targeted for South Berkeley: construction of a new seniors health clinic/housing facility (the Over 60), developing and implementing a plan for use of the BART Station Air Rights, and development of the Santa Fe tracks.

Infrastructure improvements in South Berkeley and in the University and Shattuck areas are important to the revitalization of the City.

It is estimated that approximately $2.65 million in social services would be needed in addition to what the City already allocates to provide substantive assistance in meeting the needs of more "at risk" individuals. Special needs are youth programs, drug treatment services, employment training, domestic violence prevention, crime awareness, health care, and child care services. All of these services would allow residents to move towards greater empowerment.

Berkeley is an old City with many landmarked buildings and buildings of historic merit which are in need of repairs if they are to be preserved. In addition, many of the City's landmarked commercial buildings are in need of rehabilitation, especially seismic retrofitting because of their brick foundation.

Berkeley has a priority, the creation of job opportunities for Berkeley residents. Berkeley also has many micro-businesses which need loan assistance to expand. The City has set- aside a one-time amount of $1 million of its PERS refund monies for such a loan program with recipients signing a first-source hiring agreement.

Anti-Poverty Strategy

Berkeley is among the most active cities in the San Francisco Bay Area in fighting poverty among its residents. The City's anti-poverty programs include expansion of employment and business opportunities. Supportive social services that facilitate job hunting and retention, and land use controls that promote economic development creating and maintaining jobs for lower income populations as well as contribute to the general economic well-being of the City.

Housing and Community Development Resources

Berkeley resources include the following.

Local Resources

Berkeley has an investment and leveraging plan to create and maintain affordable housing by utilizing both government and private financing, including socially responsible investors and lenders, to encourage cooperation between the private (non-profit and for-profit) and public sector in project development to meet the requirements of the various funding sources.

Coordination of Strategic Plan

The City's Program Planning, Management and Budget (PPMB) Division was the lead agency for the development of the Consolidated Plan. The Plan was developed in close consultation with the staff engaged in revising the General Plan, including the General Plan Housing Element, and staff preparing the City's annual budget.

In developing the Plan, staff consulted with community service providers, including the Berkeley Network of Housing Agencies, community agencies, receiving CDBG, ESG and HOME funding and including agencies assisting the City's homeless population. Staff also consulted with the Housing Advisory Commission and appropriate staff from the Housing Authority, the Housing and Redevelopment Division, the Health and Human Services Department, the Homeless Coordinator, the Planning Department and the City Manager's Office. There were several meetings between the City, Oakland, and Alameda County to discuss regional coordination, especially as it pertains to homeless programs.


Description of Key Projects

The City proposes to give top priority to programs maintaining long-term affordability of housing, obtaining additional Section 8 rental assistance, requiring affordability for very low income persons as a condition of providing City rental rehabilitation loans and assisting homeless persons through a continuum of care approach. The City will continue to provide loans to rehabilitate and maintain rental housing and homeownership units, especially those owned by very low income elderly and disabled people. A major effort will be made to improve program administration and, where appropriate, to consolidate programs; to integrate social services with housing for homeless persons and those with special needs; and to support economic and job training programs which lead to greater independence of low income persons and households. The geographic focus of many programs will continue to be the CDBG Neighborhood Strategy Area.


Activities will be undertaken in various parts of the City, such as, the NSA (South and West Berkeley).

Lead Agencies

As previously stated, the lead agency is the City's PPMB Division. This Division cooperates with the other entities previously listed.

Housing Goals

The U.S. Census shows that about 11 percent of Berkeley's population (11,252 persons) is over 65 years of age. There are 8,169 households where the head of household is at least 65 years of age, including 5,422 homeowners and 2,624 renters. Approximately 3,345 elderly persons (42 percent) have some form of disability, with 2,719 having disabilities which prevent them from working. There are 1,459 persons over 85 years of age, 875 of which are expected to need assistance with their normal activities.

The inadequate incomes of low-income homeowners frequently result in inadequate maintenance as well. The City has both a reverse equity counseling program, to enable homeowners to turn part of their home equity into current income, land programs to provide maintenance assistance to low-income elderly homeowners.

There are an estimated 150 known cases of persons with AIDS in Berkeley and 850 persons who are HIV positive. These numbers may be conservative since many HIV/AIDS cases are unreported. The number in Berkeley could be as high as 2,000 cases. Although persons who are HIV positive or have AIDS can live with the virus for a long time, at some point, they will have special needs such as affordable housing. Berkeley is participating in a county-wide AIDS housing assessment that will include identifying special housing and other needs of people with AIDS/HIV with the City and throughout the county.

There are an estimated 1,175 of the population who are addicted to alcohol or some other drug. Approximately one quarter may be in need of supportive housing. The lack of recovery centers is a need for both Berkeley and surrounding cities.

Providing affordable housing for its low income and homeless residents is an ongoing Berkeley priority.


MAP 1 depicts the Berkeley, California area and selected points of interest.

MAP 2 depicts the low and moderate income areas within the City.

MAP 3 depicts the racial distribution of the City.

MAP 4 depicts areas of higher unemployment within the City.

MAP 5 depicts the project neighborhood; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).

For information about Berkely's Consolidated Plan, contact
Oscar Sung
City of Berkeley
(510) 644-6002

Return to California's Consolidated Plans.