New numbers show San Francisco has nation’s highest rents 

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  • Rents in San Francisco are the highest in the nation.
San Francisco’s status as a pricey place to live has been confirmed, and then some.

The City has the highest median rent among the nation’s largest cities, beating New York handily, according to data from 2010 to 2012 released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The census information comes at a time of heightened concerns in San Francisco about home prices, rental prices and the overall cost of living in The City. A survey in late September showed that 50 percent of those polled cited the affordability of living in The City as their No. 1 concern, above such things as public transportation and crime.

The economic recovery here has also aroused concern about the new, young, highly skilled workers coming to The City and paying more for housing, potentially displacing lower-income residents through increased rents and evictions.

San Francisco is the 14th-largest city in the country, with roughly 825,000 residents as of 2012, and it beat out every larger city in the U.S., and a handful of other high-rent locales, when it comes to median rents: $1,463.

What’s more, just under half of all The City’s occupied 217,452 rental units cost $1,500 a month or more.

The rental data came from three years of the housing surveys from the Census Bureau. The median marks the midpoint in the range of rental prices.

While San Francisco’s rents stood out among big cities, a few others came close.

The second-highest median rents went to The City’s southern neighbor San Jose with $1,441, then Boston at $1,260. Washington, D.C., was close behind with a $1,236 median. New Yorkers paid a median of $1,187, while in Seattle, another city whose economy has a large tech sector like San Francisco, median rents were $1,053. Chicagoans paid $932.

While 63.6 percent of all units in The City are occupied by renters, those paying through the nose — at least as a percentage of household income — was not as high in San Francisco as in other large cities.

For instance, rents equaling 35 percent or more of household income only applied to 37.6 percent of rental units in San Francisco. In San Jose, that number was 43.8 percent. In D.C., it was 40.7 percent. Even in Los Angeles, where median rent was $1,159, a whopping 52.7 percent of rental units paid 35 percent or more of their household income to rents.

Still, another 9 percent of San Francisco rental units cost 30 to 34.9 percent of the income of their occupants.

The data, released as part of the 2012 annual American Community Survey, is a three-year look at housing data from 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Homeowners in San Francisco, at least those with a mortgage, don’t have it much better when it comes to how much they dish out monthly.

Of The City’s 124,269 owner-occupied units, 87,727 paid a mortgage. Of those, 70,349 paid mortgages of $2,000 or more a month.

Furthermore, 34,610 owner-occupied units paid 35 percent or more of their household income to owner costs and another 8,521 paid 30 to 34.9 percent.

Living in San Francisco

Most housing units in The City are occupied, mostly by renters and not the owners:

376,653: Total housing units

341,721: Total units occupied

217,452: Renter-occupied units

64: Percentage of units that are renter-occupied

$1,463: Median rent

19,171: Units renting for $750-$999 (9% of all units)

49,708: Units renting for $1,000 to $1,499 (23.4% of all units)

102,453: Units renting for $1,500 or more (48.3% of all units)

Rent as a percentage of household income:

77,728: Pay 35% or more of income (37% of all units)

18,672: Pay 30-34.9% of income (9% of all units)

24,840: Pay 25-29.9% of income (12% of all units)

25,878: Pay 20-24.9% of income (12.5% of all units)

28,472: Pay 15-19.9% of income (13.8% of all units)

31,397: Pay 15% or less of income (15.2% of all units)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Bio:
Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

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