If it’s tough out there for anyone looking to buy a home in San Francisco, it’s even bleaker for those looking to rent in this city. Yeah, you knew that already, but the San Francisco Business Times broke down just how intense the scramble for affordable housing has gotten. It’s not just because supply isn’t keeping up with demand, but the money for affordable housing – federal grants, redevelopment funds, bonds – has dropped by 69 percent since 2007. If you aren’t the one getting pushed out, then you know someone who is. Even the most die-hard free market devotees can’t be all that excited about losing half their friends to the housing crisis.
Mayor Ed Lee wants to build or rehabilitate 30,000 housing units by 2020, of which 10,000 will be set aside for low-income residents (in essence, individuals earning less than SF’s median income of $67,950, or families of four who make less than half the median of $97,100). Prop K on the ballot this November would make it so, while building housing on publicly-owned lots and steer money towards keeping tenants in their current homes. We need more, of course, but developers insist that incorporating more affordable housing into new construction makes the entire enterprise unprofitable.
If we assume that those 30,000 new apartments hold, on average, two people, that means we can accommodate 60,000 more San Franciscans by 2020. (Sure, some rehabilitated flats will contain several bedrooms, but a lot of new construction will consist of studios and micro-apartments.) Since 2010, however, the city’s population has been growing by more than 10,000 per year – which means even the mayor’s ambitious plan must somehow cram 100,000 projected new residents into housing for barely half that. We could still be right where we are now, all living with too many roommates and barely hanging on.
And the official estimate is a population of 964,000 by 2035! Density is the way of the future, and that’s a lot of new neighbors to get to know, but the longer this goes on, the more we’re looking at a radically different city from today.