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Rents drop again, but affordability crisis still too tough to kill

Relief may be coming, but very, very slowly

If you’re hurting for good news about renting in San Francisco, here’s Abodo's to the rescue: The median price of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco declined a startling seven percent, going from $4,204 at the beginning of May to $3,929 in June, according to the site's rental report. That’s the third biggest month-over-month drop nationwide, after Washington DC and Riverside, California.

The nearly four grand price is still Abodo's highest in the nation. And unless anyone is sitting on a magic lamp, it's going to stay that way for a while. But San Francisco was also one of Abodo’s biggest losers (a positive term, in this context) back in March, and rents on the site have been more or less flat or in incremental decline for the rest of the year.

Last week, ApartmentList provided a median one-bedroom rental price of $3,560, indicating a marginal increase of 0.4 percent for the month (which was still arguably good news, given how sluggish it was compared to the rest of the country). This was almost identical to the Zumper median price of $3,590 for a one bed apartment.

Something to keep in mind: These sites are only tabulating the listings they have, so none of them are a truly objective, set-in-stone picture of the market. Abodo has approximately 900 listings in the city right now; a respectably large sample size, but not a scientific one. It’s not surprising if one site prices the average higher or measures declines more steeply than others.

In any case, that many sources indicate either overall flatness or gradual decline in prices is much-needed oxygen for renters still trying to shake their housing market-induced PTSD.

Which is good timing. The very same day that Abodo reassures us, Trulia pops its head out from under the bed to say "boo": In a report released today titled "Where Rent is Still Too Damn High," only 22.2 percent of San Francisco Trulia listings for April were dubbed affordable (30 percent of take home pay) on a median household income.

This time last year, we had 26 percent, but that decline is at least smaller than Oakland’s monstrous drop from 66 percent in 2015 to 46 percent today. Yikes.

In separate Trulia findings, the affordability of two bedrooms in Fremont plunged from 51 to 28 percent this year, Berkeley dropped from 50 to 39 percent, and Walnut Creek went from 55 to 35. The best pickings in the Bay Area may be Hayward, which absorbed a 20 point hard check of its own, but still sits somewhat pretty at 71 percent. For now.