What does it take to afford to live in San Francisco in 2019?
$148,000 a year. That’s the salary an individual needs to afford a one-bedroom market-rate apartment in The City, where the median rent is $3,700 a month. That’s more than double the salary of a teacher. Three times the salary of a non-profit employee. And four times the salary of an in-home healthcare worker.
The big question on everyone’s mind is: why in the world has it become so unaffordable to live here?
It’s no secret that San Francisco has become the epicenter of wealth concentration and real estate speculation, creating a major housing affordability crisis. The City has failed to build enough affordable housing, meeting just 30 percent of our housing production goal for individuals making below $103,000 a year.
At the same time, The City is easily meeting, and even exceeding, its goals for market-rate housing production — the kind that costs over $3,700 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. It’s a huge imbalance of housing supply, and it’s not making housing more affordable for a majority of San Franciscans.
The private real estate market will not save us from our affordability crisis; The City must prioritize resources for the expedited construction of housing for low- to middle-income workers and families, including educators who are leaving the school district at an alarming rate.
What San Francisco needs is a massive investment in affordable housing, which will be accomplished through November’s housing bond, and a comprehensive rezoning of public lands and large lots to address the real challenges to building affordable and educator housing citywide.
That’s why we teamed up with the teachers union (the United Educators of San Francisco) and non-profit affordable housing developers to introduce the Affordable Homes for Educators and Families NOW Initiative for the November 2019 ballot.
This zoning and streamlining package — the most comprehensive reform ever of the way The City builds housing — will facilitate and expedite 100 percent affordable housing and educator housing throughout The City to serve a wide range of very-low to middle-income San Franciscans.
By unlocking large public and private lots throughout The City for affordable housing where such development isn’t currently permitted, this initiative will create hundreds of opportunities for affordable housing projects from the Bayview to the Richmond — without the need for lengthy rezoning processes. This will speed up production, save city resources, and get more affordable housing built.
Once we repurpose land for affordable housing, 100 percent affordable projects can take advantage of local streamlining laws. In addition, state law (SB-35) allows projects where at least half the units are for households at or below 80 percent of the median income ($68,950 annually for an individual) to be approved “by-right.” These laws create important incentives to build more housing for moderate- and middle-income households while also ensuring we don’t leave behind our low-income workers and families.
Our groundbreaking initiative also pilots a 100 percent Educator Housing Program on underutilized land owned by the school district and City College district. Because they own the land, every single unit can be dedicated to their faculty and staff who are struggling to stay in San Francisco. The City has talked about building educator housing for years, and now this program means that early childhood educators, para-educators, tenured teachers, and school social workers can have dedicated affordable homes.
Rather than promoting market-rate development on publicly owned land, the Affordable Homes for Educators and Families NOW Initiative will maximize this land for affordable housing, a principle affirmed by San Francisco voters in 2015 (Prop K). To make this plan a reality, the Board of Supervisors earmarked tens of millions in ongoing funding for affordable housing, and dedicated $20 million for affordable educator housing in the 2019 Affordable Housing Bond for the first time in history.
We are proud to stand with the United Educators of San Francisco and our local affordable housing community to pass this critical initiative. We hope to join forces with our Mayor and other elected officials to ensure overwhelming passage in November along with the historic $600 million Affordable Housing Bond. This upcoming election presents an incredible opportunity to tackle the two biggest barriers to addressing our affordable housing crisis: access to land and funding. Now let’s get to work.
Sandra Lee Fewer is the supervisor of District 1, Aaron Peskin is the supervisor of District 3, Matt Haney is the supervisor of District 6 and Shamann Walton is the supervisor of District 10.