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Creative Solutions to San Francisco’s Housing Crisis
Outside-of-the-box thinking on affordability
The cover story in the summer 2014 print edition
At a time when the median two-bedroom apartment rent, $3,550, now consumes about half the average resident’s wages, most news coverage in San Francisco has made the crisis in housing affordability sound insurmountable.
For the summer print edition, we scouted for creative new ideas for big-effect, cost-effective and politically feasible solutions.
Our focus was on bold — if not necessarily imminent — concepts that could keep rents down while preserving the city’s diverse communities and cultures. (See below: What makes a good housing “solution”?)
In June, we went to the community for more ideas, convening a daylong workshop at the Impact Hub San Francisco called “Hack the Housing Crisis.” Policymakers, builders, neighborhood activists, architects, technologists, artists and other longtime San Franciscans presented more than 20 of their own solutions. The event was co-sponsored by Shareable, with help from Craigconnects and other sponsors.
We felt we needed to provide more than another expose about a troubled institution or failed public policy. It is a risky proposition for a publication that embraces neutrality to specifically seek out and highlight ideas for solutions not yet on the Board of Supervisors’ weekly agenda. But readers told us repeatedly that they wanted to learn about new policy ideas that could improve their community.
Other stories in this project:
- San Francisco and New York Housing Plans Compared, Aug. 4, 2014
- Working Groups Envision Plans for an Affordable San Francisco, June 17, 2014
- Pitching Visions of an Affordable San Francisco at ‘Hack the Housing Crisis,’ June 13, 2014
- Easy Solutions to S.F.’s Housing Crisis? Beware Unintended Consequences, June 12, 2014
- New In-Law Suite Rules Boost Affordable Housing in San Francisco (via Shareable) June 10, 2014
- S.F. Mayor Counts Existing Homes to Hit Affordable Housing Goal, May 13, 2014
- Linking the Google Bus With the Housing Crisis, May 9, 2014
- Seeking San Francisco Affordable Housing Solutions, 20 Seconds at a Time, May 7, 2014
We are doing this because readers have told us over and over that they want to hear more about ways they can help solve problems, not just read about what went wrong with a trusted institution. We look to the example set by the Solutions Journalism Network, as well as Journalism That Matters, for inspiration for how to do solutions-focused journalism that, while it endeavors to be independent and not cross over into advocacy, is still controversial in many newsrooms because it invites the community to help set the news agenda.
San francisco housing by the numbers
$3,550 median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the S.F metro area in June
13.8 percentage increase in average rent for a two-bedroom apartment over one year
2½ number of times faster that San Francisco rents increased vs. national average
48 percentage of average wages required to rent a two-bedroom apartment
1 million projected population in 2040, an increase of 21 percent
222,000 approximate number of rental apartments
171,000 number of apartments covered under rent-control law
170 percentage increase in Ellis Act evictions between 2010 and 2012
19 percentage of new housing needed for middle-income earners
10,000 homes Mayor Ed Lee plans to make affordable in six years
Sources: 1-4: Trulia.com. 5: ABAG/MTC. 6: S.F. Planning Dept. 7: S.F. Rent Board - SPUR 8: S.F. Board of Supervisors. 9: ABAG/MTC. 10: S.F. Mayor’s Office.
For an older version of this page see: sfpublicpress.org/housing-crisis