mike koozmin/s.f. examiner file photoHomeless advocates say recent incidents make it seem like police have an extra focus on The City’s most vulnerable people.

mike koozmin/s.f. examiner file photoHomeless advocates say recent incidents make it seem like police have an extra focus on The City’s most vulnerable people.

Despite tech wealth, SF pockmarked with poverty

A walk down the streets of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, where many of The City’s nonprofits serving the poorest are located, quickly disabuses anyone of the idea that The City’s streets are paved with bitcoins.

San Francisco may rank among the nation’s top cities for affluence, have one of the priciest rental markets and be home to billion dollar startups, but the City is pockmarked with poverty.

As a whole The City has one of the state’s lowest official poverty rates – 13 percent – but according to an economic profile of San Francisco released earlier this year by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, numerous area’s measured by the U.S. Census had rates nearly twice as high.

The report highlights the contrast between pockets of poverty and the surrounding affluence and is one more sign of the growing gap between San Francisco’s haves and have-nots.

And despite the financial divide, many of the poorest parts of town sit within a stone’s throw of the toniest.

For example, an area stretching from Hayes Valley into the Tenderloin had a poverty rate of 28 percent and a median household income of $22,252. Not far off, the Marina and Cow Hollow had a poverty rate of 6 percent and a median income of $107,226.

The City’s median household income is $73,802.

But just over the hill in Chinatown, 24 percent of households are in poverty and the median household income is $33,979.

South of Market, were many tech firms have opened shop and The Bayview – not but a ten minute drive from Bernal Heights – had poverty rates of about 22 percent.

“Clearly there are quite a range of economics in the within The City,” said Sarah Bohn, an economist with the Public Policy Institute of California. “There’s a lot of high wage jobs here, there’s a lot of opportunity, but it’s not definitely true that everyone can access that.”

Bohn says that older cities, with settled patterns of income and housing, often have more varied incomes than newer suburbs.

“We are facing increasing income disparity and San Francisco in many ways is the tale of two cities: One increasingly poor and one… affluent,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness.

Nick Kimura, a volunteer for the Coalition on Homelessness, said that in recent years the concentration of poor in certain areas in The City has increased. Since there are so few neighborhoods with affordable rents, displacement by evictions, for instance, pushes people to areas where there are already lots of poor.

But the breakdown in geographical terms of San Francisco’s income divide, says Bohn, doesn’t reflect the true level of poverty in The City.

A report released last year by the PPIC used a different measurement to assess socio-economic status – called the California Poverty Measure – and found that San Francisco had a poverty rate of 23 percent as opposed to the federal measurement of 12 percent that year.

“In contrast to the official poverty measure, the CPM incorporates the state’s high—and variable—cost of living and the effect of social safety net programs,” noted the PPIC. According to the measure, the threshold for poverty is about $36,000 for a family of four.

Household poverty rates in census areas:

Hayes Valley, Tenderloin: 28 percent

Chinatown: 24 percent

South of Market: 22.7 percent

Bayview: 22.2 percent

Lake Merced: 20.3 percent

North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf: 19.1 percentBay Area NewshousingPovertySan Francisco economy

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

Steven Buss, left, and Sachin Agarwal co-founded Grow SF, which plans to produce election voter guides offering a moderate agenda. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Grow SF: New tech group aims to promote moderate ideals to political newcomers

Sachin Agarwal has lived in San Francisco for 15 years. But the… Continue reading

Most Read