How to solve San Francisco's housing crisis

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- We recently told you that San Francisco's housing production for low-income earners is out of sync with the actual demand. It all came out in a report last week by the Legislative Budget Analyst's Office.

Just walk around the city and you can't help but notice that construction is everywhere in San Francisco. Do you ever stop to wonder who gets to live in those pricey buildings?

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We'll tell you who's going to occupy those units. The City projects that San Francisco will have 15,000 high-income households by 2026, ready, willing and able to move in.

And why not? The market-rate units needed to house all those people have been approved or are in the pipeline. More than 18,000 units, according to that report by the legislative budget analysts office.

"There's just more money for it, so right now in a very hot business economy there is a lot of real estate capital that's looking to put itself into new construction," says Peter Cohen of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, among the leaders of the affordable housing movement.

But what about low-income families? That's where the City falls short.

The City has a shortage of 15,600 low-income housing units.

"We are living in a chronic housing shortage and we've been building that housing shortage for the last 50 some odd years," insists Sam Moss of the Mission Housing Development Corporation who says only in the past few years has San Francisco aggressively begun to tackle the problem.

Here's what's been done.

-By next year San Francisco will have built 30,000 affordable housing units. It's a lot, but clearly not enough.

-Currently, developers have to set aside 20 percent of the units they build toward affordable housing or they can put money into a fund toward building affordable housing. That gives these non-profits that oversee these projects more leverage because money in hand attracts state, federal and private investments. So they get more bang for their buck.

-The City is also in the business of buying older buildings and refurbishing them but that has only given them about 200 units. Again, still not enough.

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Since we're into finding solutions, here's what the experts in that field say will help solve the housing crisis.

"Supporting ballot measures will bring in money," adds Cohen.

Meanwhile, Moss says neighborhoods have to stop legally challenging developments.

"There is a ton of land. There is an absolute gargantuan amount of land on the West Side of San Francisco. The Sunset District and the Richmond Districts do not need to be seas of one and two story-single family homes," expresses Moss.

He says other Bay Area cities also have to build more housing in order to lessen San Francisco's burden.
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