Who gets to live here?

Renewed debates about housing policy will shape what kind of city San Francisco becomes

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yael@sfbg.com

Housing policy — which determines who will be able to live in San Francisco — has been a hot topic at City Hall these days.

At a Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee meeting on Feb. 13, representatives from the Mayors Office of Housing (MOH) reported on the state of middle-income housing in San Francisco, at the request of Sup. Scott Wiener. "Middle class" people make up 28 percent of the city's population, a 10 percent decrease in the past two decades, and to reverse that decline would cost about $4.3 billion in housing subsidies, or more than half the city's annual budget.

Wiener, who insists that "middle income and low income housing are not mutually exclusive," said he's raising the issue because the needs of the shrinking middle class are not being addressed. But during the public comment period, a long procession of low-income residents say city housing policies have kept them on the brink of homelessness. The takeaway message was: don't embark on new housing efforts until you can enforce the ones that are already in place.

Also underscoring the desperate state of many San Francisco residents, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting released a report Feb. 16 that contains shocking statistics about invalid foreclosures and illegal evictions in San Francisco. Ting found that 99 percent of all foreclosure proceedings in San Francisco in the past four years have contained paperwork irregularities, and in 84 percent of cases, banks or lenders have committed fraud or broke other laws.

With the loss of the redevelopment agencies, Mayor Ed Lee's proposal for a housing trust fund, renewed calls for more condo conversions, and a new focus on middle income housing incentives, the conversation on housing in San Francisco is heating up.

 

MOVING TOWARDS RENTAL

San Francisco's housing market is 64 percent rentals and 36 percent ownership, according to MOH. So despite the focus of politicians and developers on homeownership, housing policy in San Francisco mostly involves renters, many of whom face myriad threats.

Rents can be so steep that market-rate rental housing is becoming increasingly accessible only for parts of the middle class and the highest income brackets in the city. People in San Francisco tend to pay a huge chunk of their income towards rent.

The federal Housing and Urban Development Agency considers it reasonable for a households to pay 30 percent of their income towards rent; but for the city's very low income households, rent is typically nearly 60 percent of income. For middle income households, the average percent paid toward rent has increased since 1990, but remains below 30 percent.

Those people fall mainly into the middle-income bracket, those earning 80-120 percent of Area Median Income (AMI.) Planning Director John Rahaim said that for the very low-income population (0-50 percent AMI) all rental housing is "virtually off-limits."

So, for the middle class, renting a place in San Francisco is tough. For the low and very-low income, it's next to impossible. And that reality threatens the city's diversity.

"The highest rent burden still falls on lower income residents, many of whom pay 70 percent of their income as rent," Sup. Eric Mar, who also sits on the Land Use Committee, said at the hearing. "In my district, people have whole families living in their living room or extra bedroom."

But things may be looking up for renters. MOH' Brian Cheu said developers believe that the market trends are heading towards construction of new rental housing after being almost exclusively owner-occupied units for many years. Cheu said there are 725 rental units in the pipeline for the next five to ten years, more than twice the new housing units meant for ownership slated for that time period.

Comments

Who Gets to Live Here for How Much

Re your article in the Feb 22-28 GAURDIAN, “Who Gets to Live Here” http://www.sfbg.com/2012/02/21/who-gets-live-here?page=0,0

I crunched the numbers you left out to estimate Who Gets to Live Here for How Much using the Federal Housing and Urban development Agency’s reasonable amount households may be expected to pay towards rent which is now 30% of income up from 25% (there is NO inflation!) .
2011-2012 Bay Area Median Income (BAMI)San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA $95,400
https://www.efanniemae.com/sf/refmaterials/hudmedinc/hudincomeresults.js...

Middle Income Bracket (according to your article) = 80%-120% BAMI

$76,320 (80%BAMI)
$95,400 (100%BAMI)
$114,480 (120%BAMI)

Reasonable Rent = 30% of Gross Income

BAMI Middle Income Brackets Reasonable Rent =
$22,896/12= $1,908/mth
$28,620/12=$2,385/mth
$34,344/12=$2,862/mth

If you are on the bottom rung of the Bay Area Middle Class making a mere $76,320 then your reasonable rent (30% of Gross Income) can be expected to be $1,908/month. Since that middle income bracket is broad but dwindling (has a 40% range and a 28% rental presence in the population of SF) those reasonable rents can range up to $2,862/month for a top rung middle income of $114,480.

Judging by the increase in the number of cars being parked on the street in the Richmond District, I would suggest those “middle income brackets” are being increasingly shared by 2 or more persons in order for the household to belong to the middle class and afford these reasonable rents.

Thank GOD (Good Old Democrats) for rent control that has protected me from the financial speculators! The free (read speculative and manipulated) real estate market is what has driven rents and house prices up well above their historical values.

That is what your next article should address, the speculative nature of the rise of these asset prices since 1971. House prices were NOT for the most part driven up by REAL demand and rent prices in SF have been driven recently NOT by REAL economics but by all that digital money created by speculative monetizing of corporate equities used to justify unreasonably (read inflationary) high tech wages. I pray GOD, give us our daily real economics and deliver us from the speculators!

Occupy the speculators!

bearsf
San Francisco

Posted by Guest bearsf on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 11:55 am

That supervisor Wiener and Farrell still advocate for the real estate industry after what America and the world have gone through and are still going through -- it makes my skin crawl.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

here. America is a free country (still) and anyone can up sticks and move here, or leave here. Attempts to micromanage the demographics are usually done for self-serving reasons e.g. to skew the voting demographic and so perpetuate power.

But SF has always been changing it's demographic and always will. Ultimately the government can't do much about it. It's a very desirable place to live and so it will always be expensive. The idea that we can turn back the clock to whatever time you think the populace was "optimal" is simply misguided social engineering at it's worst.

Yeah, it's tough to afford to be here. Deal with it. Or move.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 1:35 pm
+1

+1

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

is to try to change it -- that's the privilege of living in a democracy. Your Social Darwinist ranting only sheds more light on how the so-called "free market" is fundamentally incompatible with democracy. I guess as Americans, we must choose which is more important at this moment in our history.

Posted by Tawney on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

you wish without a bureaucrat telling you where you must live.

There's still a few communist nations around if you prefer big brother telling you what to do and where you can do it.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

... I assume you mean rich people determining where or where not others can live, which is what was suggested in the original comment. I don't equate wealth with freedom -- I think all people should be equally free regardless of income. I also don't necessarily equate real estate with freedom either. But I do know that communities are built by people who contribute in far more ways other than income agglomeration (although of course greed, as a natural human tendency, certainly has its place in the grand narrative of society. But just one place.) A city of people who do nothing but earn money to try to satisfy their insecurities would be no community at all. Nor would a city where the disenfranchised don't fight to remain a part of it.

PS if you look at the "communist" countries you'll see that they're actually very close in temperament and operation to the free market utopia -- no regulation, rife nepotism, zero tolerance for social justice agitation or political protest, forced relocation of the poor -- that those like yourself prescribe. You actually fear democracy and equality, which would encourage you to prove yourself in other ways than money-making. You could still comment ceaselessly on blogs, however. Maybe that's where you'd most excel. Nah.

Posted by Tawney on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

What the other Greg/Guest call "freedom and democracy" is really an excuse for the rich to slap everyone down with the mythical invisble hand. The same people who say money equals speech will tell you money equals freedom. In reality, though, there is no such thing as the free market. The market works the way it does by conscious design of the ruling class, and then they want to tell the rest of us "oh well, if you can't afford to live here, them's the breaks. Just leave." Bullshit. The rich are no better than anyone else, and they have no more right to live in a place just because they have more money.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

I can't affford to live in Monaco but that doesn't mean a rich person says I can't. It just means that I lack the fiscal power. Not everyone can be successful.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

Why would you want to live in Monaco? Can't you see how all the gambling and sportscar racing and shameless displays of wealth are destroying capitalism? What kind of American are you?

Rich people telling others to move if they can't afford to live here most certainly qualifies as telling people what to do and where (or not) to live.

Posted by Tawney on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

Beverly Hills or Pacific Heights or the Upper East Side doesn't mean that anyone is telling me I cannot. It just means I'm not rich enough.

Same reason I can't buy a Mercedes or a yacht or a private plane or a diamond tiara.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

...says the person who makes enough money to afford to live here.

Posted by GuestDavid on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

plenty of people make enough money to live here.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

There is the mask of the rip off that is behind the take over of ppl's property.
The green initiative is being used by the United Nations as an agenda to control everybodies lives thru future taxes and squeezing the population into cramped living spaces.
This is a very large subject but to get a very little part of it is to acknowledge the idea that tax payers money pay for all of the redeveloped housing.
There are contracts given out that have always bbeen questioned of their validity and why do the same wealthy ppl get them all the time.
Further the money does not go to low income or middle income ppl who pay a very large portion of the taxes.
Who further benifits are the real estate developers as well as the contractors builder developers.
At the end of the cycle the properties are always owned by private groups or private parties/Corporations.
This is nothing more than a land grab in simple terms.
When you look at the idea of units with commercial on the ground floor and 4 or more stories on top with ppl crowded into amall living spaces, where does it do the taxpayer any good at all.
This entire scheme by Redevelopment and the other government agencies who conspire to steal land for the wealthiest portion in the entire country is nothing short of treason and massive corruption.
I could go on but I wont because your statement about if you dont like it you can move sounds like you are against freedom of speach.
If you don't like what the government and this corrupt system is doing then you should just leave the country has been a rallying cry for the wealthy thru their minnions and their dupes for years.
Agenda 21 is a United Nations plot to control every aspect of life on this planet using carbon footprint language and land grabs like the one described here.
You should educate yourself on it's true meaning.
International Council on Local Enviromental Inititiatives-SSustainable Development. ICLEI are bringing standardized programs that are to be incorporated around this entire planet with only a very few ppl who are in control of the entire program for the entire planet.
It is a whole life plan involving your educational system, your energy system, your government, your food production, your transportation, and your health.
This is all being sponsored from wealthy groups who get the government to give them massive amounts of taxpayers money and use it all against the ones they are supposed to being trying to help.
This entire agenda is nothing m ore than a slick scheme from think tanks who steal money from taxpayer like the whole thing In Greece.

Posted by Guest oziowe on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 7:28 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

he should be fighting to abolish rent control, because nobody in their right mind would build rental housing in this town unless it were exempt from RC, i.e. condo's.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

They're snapped up and rented out quicker than anyone realizes - usually by out-of-state or foreign owners.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

they are the only residential buildings that get built in SF.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

to add these two exempt categories to the rent control ordinance - further throttling the city's ability to supply housing to its residents. What's Ted's is Ted's and what's everyone else is Ted's too.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

powerless to change it.

Costa-Hawkins Act, 1996.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

All new construction is exempt from rent control, which only applies to pre-1979 housing.

Posted by steven on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 11:18 am

the city could change that 1979 rule at any time. Remember when 2-4 unit owner-occupied buildings were exempt? That got changed.

But including condo's and SFH's in rent control cannot be done by the city because that would be contrary to State law.

Which is why you see lots of condo's and (where space permits) SFH new build, but nobody is building new rental complexes unless they are short-stay, corporate, tourists or senior oriented. It's just too risky.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 11:33 am

Ummm, no Greg, the City can't change rent control at any time. Costa Hawkins is STATE law, and very well-defended by landlord interests.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2012 @ 7:54 am

And if you actually read the story, you'd learn that there's lots of new rental housing in the pipeline, more than owner occupied units, for the first time in decades. Apparently even developers realize that the home ownership ruse is over and it's time to start building what people actually need.

Posted by steven on Feb. 27, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

"and in 84 percent of cases, banks or lenders have committed fraud or broke other laws."

I seem to recall the last time someone brought up the question of throwing the banksters in jail, the shills and trolls came out of the woodwork and defended these parasites saying they didn't break any laws.

Well apparently they did. And we're not talking about minor stuff. We're talking about lawbreaking that resulted in people losing their homes!

They throw people in jail for protesting, public drinking, smoking joints, prostitution... you name it -stupid stuff that doesn't hurt anyone. And here you have scoundrels who steal people's homes and they're walking the streets free!

How is this different from some con-man who bilks old people out of their life savings? Somehow this country finds a way to imprison a larger share of the population than any other country on earth -but not these bastards! Where's Gascon's investigation? Why isn't the SFPD going into the banks and tightening those zip-ties so tight around the bankers' hands that the circulation is cut off? Why aren't they prying the bankers' eyes open and spraying pepper spray into their eyes like they do with the protesters? Why aren't they going into the offices of Chase and Wells Fargo and beating the crap out of the executives like they do with the Occupiers, and then charging THEM with Assault on a Police Officer?

If there was any justice in this country, they'd all immediately have their assets frozen (because they made those assets from bilking people out of their homes), liquidate the companies, and distribute the proceeds to the people whose homes they took and evicted out on the streets. Then they'd all be thrown in San Quentin (after a fair trial of course!), where they'd have a couple decades to think about their crimes over prison meatloaf.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

There's nothing to stop you hiring your own lawyer and prosecuting or suing anyone. So what are you waiting for, Greg?

Here's the thing. Just because you can't afford a decent home in SF doesn't mean that everyone who works for a bank is a crook.

Once you get that, you are on the road to self-determination.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

"There's nothing to stop you hiring your own lawyer and prosecuting or suing anyone. So what are you waiting for, Greg?"

1. It's not my job to prosecute crime. It's the DA's. The fact that they're selectively prosecuting some crimes but not others, tells you that the whole criminal injustice system is politicized and corrupt.
2. Requiring people to do their own prosecutions perpetuates a system where justice is only for the rich. In a just society, everyone has equal access to justice, whether they can afford a lawyer or not.
3. Hiring a private attorney can, at most, get you civil penalties. In practice, it can, at most, save your home. And some people are, in fact, fighting their evictions that way. However, this is not enough. The magnitude of this fraud requires that the perps be prosecuted criminally, and put in prison to punish them for the harm that they've perpetrated on others, as well as segregating them from the rest of society so that they cannot continue to harm others.

Your glib suggestion is akin to telling someone who's been bilked out of their life's savings by a con man, to hire a lawyer she can't afford and try to sue to get something back. I'm saying the con man should be jailed, and it's the job of the state to do the prosecution.

"Here's the thing. Just because you can't afford a decent home in SF doesn't mean that everyone who works for a bank is a crook. "

No, Mr. Straw Man, not everyone. The tellers and the janitors are not crooks. But if there's fraud involved in 84% of the foreclosures, then yes, that implies that most of the people involved in the foreclosure process, including the loan officers and the executives who set policy, are by extension committing fraud. Therefore they are fraudsters. They are crooks. They are criminals. The perps should be put on trial and jailed.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

If he won't prosecute the people you think he should, then vote somebody else into office.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

First of all, I didn't vote for Gascon, so he's not "my man."

But the whole premise behind your statement is juvenile. Fact is, we both know that whoever I would've voted for wouldn't have done squat. In the exceedingly rare cases where a politician comes along who tries to take on the system in a fundamental way, the system smacks them down hard. The problem is that the whole judiciary in America is corrupt and politicized to the core. The notion that we live in a real democracy is laughable.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 24, 2012 @ 9:28 am

The city has seen quite a few developments go up. High rises, new condos, etc. Problem is, many of these unites still appear empty. They are not selling. Could we ask the developers who built them to use them as rental stock?
Also, what about the several abandoned buildings in SF. Could some of them be taken over by eminent domain and converted into low-income housing?

Posted by Erika McDonald on Feb. 25, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

unsold condo's. And in fact developers do exactly that when the market for sales is bad - it makes economic sense for them.

What you can't do is compel them to rent them out, or compel them to rent for an under-market rent.

Re abandoned buildings, there is already the ability to acquire them via the law of adverse possession. As you'd expect, the burden to do that is quite high, to prevent de facto theft.

While eminent domain requires legislative approval AND the payment of a market price. If you then rent them out at under market rent, you have to identify where the funds for that subsidy is coming from.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

I don't see condos being rented out. I see them empty. Owned by large development corp., they have no real incentive to sell or rent, thereby keeping prices for both owning and renting artificially high.
I was unaware that eminent domain requires payment of market price. Can you name the statute?

Posted by Erika McDonald on Feb. 26, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

Erika, it's the Constitution that requires "just compensation". It's called the "takings clause" and appears in the Fifth Amendment.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2012 @ 12:34 am

in there. also, if a building is 95% owner-occupiers, they won't want tenants in there either.

You can already ask developers tor ent out vacant units. You just can't force them to do that.

Also, bear in mind that condo's are usually expensive, so renting out luxury condo's for thousands a month won't help low-income people with housing, except insofar as you believe in a trickle-down rate.

And yes, as the other guy said, the government "takings" have to be at fair value. That's to protect you from unfair seizure.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2012 @ 6:39 am

...is enumerated in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S Constitution and is referred to as the "takings clause".

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2012 @ 12:36 am

But what is the "just compensation" of an abandoned building that adds to neighborhood blight? If they are really worth something, why don't they get bought?

Also, my point about the condos is that corporate developers are causing market manipulation.

For example: If you are an individual selling your home because you are moving, you have incentive to sell - you need that money to buy your next home.

However, if you are the Lennar corporation and you own a condo development, you have no incentive to sell. The condos can still be shown as assets on a corporate balance sheet. The corporate owners have no need to lower the prices in order to increase sales. Therefore, all this new housing has been built, with no corresponding drop in demand or prices.

Posted by Erika McDonald on Feb. 27, 2012 @ 9:33 am

appraisals. Typically a number of brokers or realtors would produce estimates and some reasonable average would be taken from them. tHe figure is basically what would be paid in a free market, although an owner can argue that the current market isn't depressed and therefore argue for a higher figure.

It's not unusal for the asking price to be higher than existing offers.

It's true that developers hoard units if they don't sell. They can take tax losses on them and don't have to pay property tax on the same basis as you or I. But it's the market that determines whether they "capitulate" and either rent them out or sell them on the cheap.

They have a minimum cost they need to sell them for and need to make a profit, so they only sell or rent when there is no choice - that's happened in Vegas and Miama but here there is always enough demand. Most of those new build units were sold at good prices.

If you're worried about empty units, what about the 10,000 or so kept vacant by small owners because they are scared of rent control? There's your real scandal.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2012 @ 10:16 am

The NIMBY's of San Francisco are some of the reason for the really mixed up housing problems in San Francsico. You can build housing for the upper incomers like like say the upper 10 percents. More rental housing is needed. As for empty units that is a market thing, it is up to the owner of the building, and in come cases the owners of the condos in that building might have a rule against renting. You know about CCR's. Taking over land is not a popular tool you have lawsuits, and all sorts or nasty press.

Posted by garrett on Mar. 07, 2012 @ 10:47 am

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