Apartment vacancies hit 22-year high


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Since the second quarter of last year, rent in San Jose has fallen more than five percent, to $1,430 a month. San Francisco's is down almost 5 percent, to $1,749. There's a direct link between people losing their jobs and their apartments.

The signs of a sluggish economy are all over San Jose. Property managers haven't had to offer such deep discounts or incentives to lure in renters in years.

"It's all about jobs; so jobs determine if you're going to have people that are interested in renting apartments. And when there are fewer jobs, there are fewer people looking to rent," says Jim Clause with Cal Western Property Management.

Right now, Santa Clara County's unemployment rate is 11.2 percent.

According to these latest numbers from the Department of Employment, 25 percent of the jobs lost in Santa Clara County in 2009 were in government. Another 20 percent were in the construction industry.

Cal Western Property Management says their struggling renters are making tough choices like leaving the state, or downsizing by adding roommates.

"The rent for her is very expensive so I'm trying to help her," says Yolanda Gonzalez, a San Jose resident.

That's why Gonzalez and Juana Reyes are moving in together. They found a two-bedroom for $1,500.

"It's too high, the rents right now," says Reyes.

Now many complex owners are even dropping rental rates. Still, for many renters in Silicon Valley, where the average rent is $1,600 a month, it's still not enough.

"I didn't ever want to take in a roommate. I was very happy living on my own. But when times are tough everyone's got to pull together," says Aaron Machado, a San Jose resident.

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