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Is there a housing crisis in San Francisco?

San Francisco is the US’s epicenter of tech jobs. Thousands of technology companies and startups have headquarters in the Silicon Valley which is adjacent. Moreover, big tech names such as Tesla, Apple, and Meta (formerly Facebook) are located nearby, bringing billions of dollars into the Bay Area.  

The city has been a cultural hub since the ‘50s when beat writers were the in-thing. Due to the tech boom and increasing housing demand, I have witnessed the median home prices shoot, quickly making it one of the most expensive cities to live in. 

As of December 2021, the Zillow home value index placed the value of a typical home in the City of San Francisco at $1,542,347. This was a 10.7% increase from the past year. Because of the unattainable house prices and very high cost of living, people are leaving the city at worrying rates every other day. 

In December 2021, the unemployment rates stood at 3.30%, an improvement from the previous months and not nearly as high as other major cities. However, as the cost of living is very high, families need a much higher household income to make ends meet.

Homelessness in San Francisco

Because houses are now costly, San Francisco has been experiencing a housing crisis with its homeless population continually rising. Homelessness rates here are higher than in neighboring areas like the East Bay Area and the Silicon Valley. In 2019, there were 8000 homeless people, a 17% increase from the number in 2017. At the beginning of the pandemic, this number increased, understandably so. 

By April of 2020, the city had successfully lowered this number. As of May 2021, the city announced that it still serves 1400 homeless residents daily. One of the obvious driving factors of this crisis is gentrification because of all the new tech workers migrating to the city to work in Silicon Valley. Others include a rise in substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Can the housing crisis be solved?

Leave out the staggeringly high cost of living, and San Francisco is still one of the best cities in the US. Its progressiveness and rich culture still attract people from other parts of the country and the rest of the world. Therefore, actively solving this crisis would be worth the policymakers’ efforts. Here are three key ways for the city to reclaim its previous glory.

  • San Francisco should consider going back to the drawing board and creating better housing policies to ensure that working families have access to affordable housing. An example of how this can be done is breaking down barriers against new housing developments.
  • They can alleviate the high housing cost burden for residents by approving all types of housing.
  • To consider all factors relating to affordable housing as it is the only way any policy change will positively impact the city’s population.

San Francisco is Northern California’s cultural and commercial hub and boasts one of the highest populations among the US cities. The housing crisis can steadily be remedied, and all that is needed is for the city’s residents to work in tandem with the local government.

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Gary Kevin Coats