This story was originally published by the Monterey County Health Department.

Where you live affects your health

High housing costs force families to overspend, overcrowd, live in unsafe homes, or uproot themselves from the community. On the other hand, access to quality affordable housing improves residential stability and the ability to accumulate savings. This reduces stress and related health problems, while spending less on housing allows families to spend more on nutritious food and health care. Affordable housing options also reduce the spread of infectious disease, noise, and stress due to overcrowding.The shortage of affordable housing takes the hardest toll on low-income and people of color - the groups that spend the highest portion of their income on housing. These groups in turn are most pressed with difficult financial decisions around where to live and how to budget their remaining income. Short and long-term consequences related to housing unaffordability contribute to health inequities in our communities.

Select a region in Monterey County for local data

Home Ownership

51% of households in Monterey County own their home compared with 56% statewide and 65% nationally. Home ownership can lead to better physical and mental health, stability, and savings compared to renting. Homeowners also tend to invest more in maintaining and improving the neighborhood.

Housing Cost Burden

47% of Monterey County households are housing cost burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing. When families have to spend too much of their income on housing, they have less to spend on other healthy essentials such as food, utilities, medical care, and education.

Home Sale Price

Housing Costs

The typical home sale price in Monterey is $415,000. High housing costs limit choices about where to live, forcing those with lower incomes to live in substandard housing, and underresourced neighborhoods. They may also be forced to commute long distances to work, contributing to stress and increased traffic and air pollution. 

Housing Affordability

Average amount in dollars for a 20% down payment in the region selected above

Median household income for white and non-white families in the region selected above

My husband, our two children, and I live in a two bedroom apartment. Each month we spend most of our income on rent, utilities, car insurance, and car payment. We make sure to pay the urgent bills first and if money is left over, we spend it on food and health insurance – but this is often difficult. We would love to buy a house one day, but because we only have one steady income, we do not qualify. High rent is the biggest financial strain preventing us from providing a comfortable home, healthy food, and reliable health care for our family. .

- Greater Salinas Resident

Overcrowded Housing

1 IN 8 (12%) of households in Monterey County live in overcrowded conditions. Overcrowded households have more than 1 person per room, including dining and living rooms.Living in an overcrowded home can be harmful for physical and mental health as well as childhood development. It can also increase noise and stress levels, leading to sleep loss.

Percent of Households Living in Overcrowded Conditions

"My single mother raised my sisters and I in crowded apartment complexes all over North Monterey County. I was envious of my school classmates who lived in homes with big grassy backyards. My sisters and I had to play in the apartment building’s parking lot because there was no yard in our complex and no parks or playgrounds within walking distance. Now as an adult, I am fortunate enough to own my home. I feel a sense of pride knowing that my young child has a safe space to play and be active. Most importantly, I like knowing that the stability of homeownership protects my family from the risk of unexpected."

- North County Resident

Health in All Policies in Monterey County

This story was created in support of the Health in All Policies (HiAP) work in Monterey County. Health in All Policies is a collaborative effort by local stakeholders to create a healthier community. For more information go to the Monterey County Health Department HiAP website. For handouts of this Housing info click here. 

Data Sources

U.S. Census Bureau: American Community Survey (2009-2013); U.S. Census Bureau: Decennial Census (2010); U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts; CoreLogic: California Home Sale Activity by City (2014); US Bureau of Labor Statistics; Monterey County Homeless Public School Students by Nighttime Residence: Special Tabulation by the Homeless Education Program in the School Turnaround Office at the California Department of Education (2014); Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Exploring the Social Determinants of Health Housing and Health Issue Brief; Center for Housing Policy: Impacts of Affordable Housing on Health. This page is adapted from the fact sheets created in August 2015 by Raimi + Associates for MCHD PEP Unit in collaboration with HiAP Monterey County.