by the numbers: solving the housing affordability crisis
A groundbreaking analysis of San Francisco’s housing crisis released this week (Oct. 19) by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute identified which solutions work to make housing more affordable and those that make it worse. The study compares 20 different strategies – from eliminating parking requirements to fast-tracking four major developments to imposing moratoria on market-rate housing – and puts a number on the households that would move above or below a 30 percent housing cost-to-income ratio, the conventional measure of housing cost burden. It shined a glaring light on some policies, like inclusionary zoning, that actually do the opposite of what they’re intended to do.
Among the findings, boosting the number of in-law units in the city would improve housing affordability for 12,933 households. Expediting completion of major housing development, including the Hunters Point Shipyard and Treasure Island, would improve affordability for 19,154 households. On the flip, requiring builders to make 25 percent of units in a new housing development below market rate, would worsen affordability citywide for 5,408 households. Outlawing homesharing and the income it provides would make the city less affordable for 1,556 households. A 2014 ballot measure that limits waterfront development makes the city less affordable for 4,005 households.
Adding them together, the strategies that would improve affordability would reduce the housing cost burden for 74,895 households or half of those whose housing costs exceed the accepted 30 percent threshold. Strategies that would worsen affordability would increase the housing cost burden for 42,418 households.