The San Francisco Department of Health’s Program on Health, Equity & Sustainability released a new, thought provoking interactive map this month exposing the continued growing chasm being created between average income one makes versus the deficit cost of renting a SF apartment in the Castro and other City neighborhoods.
In it they state:
This week we are promoting affordable and healthy housing. Affordable housing is an important component to any healthy neighborhood. High housing costs relative to the income of an individual or household result in one or more outcomes with adverse health consequences: spending a high proportion of income on housing, living in overcrowded housing conditions, accepting lower cost substandard housing, moving to where housing costs are lower, or becoming homeless. Spending a high proportion of income on rent means fewer resources for food, heating, transportation, health care, and child care.
The Program on Health, Equity & Sustainability used a base figure determined by the number of minimum wage jobs at $10.24 p/hr it would take — working 40 hours per week — to afford a average, fair market, two bedroom neighborhood flat. According to SF Data in the Castro that would require you to work a little more than six jobs to make rent.
Of course the average Castro resident isn’t a minimum wage earner. They actually earn closer to $109,000, yet, even that isn’t enough to sustain a two bedroom residence without tightening your belt a great deal according to these figures. The data shows the income mark citizens need to reach to break even is closer to 132K –or 30% more per year than the medium Castro income –to avoid being economically upside down renting in the Gayborhood.
It’s important to note that this map is offering nothing more than a sobering look at quality of life and housing using statistics to open a discussion and review of choices one makes to live in a City like San Francisco. They aren’t offering solutions merely a map to understand what is happening out there to many of us and our neighbors.
We reached out online to Sup. Scott Wiener to get his reaction to the study. He posted this response on his Facebook page:
This rent affordability map shows what anyone whose head isn’t buried in the sand already knows – that rents are absolutely through the roof in a very scary way. The cost of housing is seriously threatening the fabric of the city. We have prioritized investment in affordable housing, but public investment isn’t enough. We need a more flexible housing policy, including an easier path to creating modestly priced secondary units (inlaw units) in neighborhoods such as the Castro. Addressing our affordability crisis will take creative, out-of-the-box thinking. We can’t just keep going the way we’ve been going for the past few decades.
Pressing for clarification on the “..prioritized investment..” the City is pursing the Supervisor wrote, “We spend a significant amount to build affordable housing. For example, we recently passed a charter amendment, which I helped craft and campaigned for, setting aside $1.5 billion for affordable housing. That’s in addition to developer fees and our yearly general fund allocations (for example, in last year’s budget I obtained funding for affordable housing for transition age youth in the Castro and supported an allocation for veteran affordable housing south of market). We invest far more than other cities, and we should be proud of that. But public investment, important as it is, will never get us all the way in terms of addressing our affordability crisis. We also need a more flexible housing policy.”
Will the Housing Trust Fund Working Group created by Mayor Lee in Jan of 2012 lead the charge for the change the Dept. of Health data implies the City desperately needs? Whether the Castro will see any affordable building constructed from the monies that’s in the City housing trust remains unclear.