Affordable Housing may soon be a reality in San Francisco

Katie, Jonckheer

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Affordable housing seems to be a constant topic of discussion in San Francisco. People are flocking to the city and the cost of living is rising in an alarming manner. Even small apartments are out of the price range and involve too much competition for many of those looking to live in the city. The question becomes, then, what is affordable housing, why do we need it, and how will we see it implemented in the future?

East Bay Housing Organizations wrote an article detailing the specifics of Affordable Housing. When housing is “affordable,” it says, “people… don’t have to choose between paying rent and buying groceries… they don’t have to live in crowded or unhealthy conditions… they can afford a home that provides a sense of security and community.” This general consensus is put into more specific terms by policymakers, who say that housing is affordable “when a household pays no more than 30 percent of its total income for housing costs…” In San Francisco, this is becoming increasingly difficult, particularly for middle and low income families.

To what extent is affordable housing an issue in the Bay Area? The Council for Community and Economic Research discovered that the cost of living in the city is “62.6 percent higher than the U.S. average.” Home prices have increased dramatically, by “nearly 36 percent.” Renting has become expensive as well. An article on SmartAsset states that a “median San Francisco two bedroom apartment would cost $55,800, significantly higher than the U.S. median income for a full time worker…(meaning that a renter) would need to be earning $155,000 per year.”

There are countless statistics around the amount of money needed for a comfortable life in the city, but it is perhaps more important to look at why this is happening. An article on Business Insider titled “This One Intersection Explains Why Housing Is So Expensive In San Francisco” explains that tech companies are flooding into the city with well-paid workers, which means that rents are rising, even for those who can’t afford it. In addition, there are suddenly more people in the Bay than there are houses. Due to such high demand for such a limited supply, housing that is available is expensive.

The San Francisco Planning Department is working to alleviate this problem. It has come up with something called the Affordable Housing Bonus Program. The program was developed to “encourage higher levels of affordable housing development, including middle-income units, while providing a streamlined application, review, and approval process.” The program plans to establish that “soft sites, like vacant or underutilized lots” become new spaces for affordable housing. This could make up to “900 new affordable units.”

 

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