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The Real Culprit in San Francisco’s Affordability Woes

Analysis from The Hill says while tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook are committing billions of funds toward affordable housing, it is the lack of government response that “warrants the brunt of our ire.”

The piece, authored by Ethan Blevins, says many blame the tech industry for San Francisco's affordability woes. Blevins says that between 2012 and 2018 rent rose 29.5%, while supply grew by 2.8%. 

“The cities receiving San Franciscan refugees built more housing to accommodate this influx than San Francisco built to house its own people,” he said. “That problem sits squarely on the shoulders of the government.”

According to The Hill, the problem is two-fold. Urban growth boundaries prevent growth from expanding outward, and single-family zoning, minimum lot sizes, and density limits prevent “common sense increases” in supply like duplexes in residential areas. 

Second, residents pressure local governments to stop development and avoid regulatory reform. 

“The people who stand to benefit from stopping growth are a well-organized group of elites with a lot at stake, while the benefits of growth, though substantial, are spread among everyone,” The Hill says. “It’s not hard to guess who shows up more often at city hall to crack their knuckles.” 

Apple released a $2.5 billion plan earlier this month to help address the housing shortage and affordability issues in California. 

The $2.5 billion plan will be broken down in the following categories: 

  • $1 billion in an affordable housing investment fund 
  • $1 billion in first-time homebuyer, mortgage assistance fund 
  • $300 million in Apple-owned and available land in San Jose for affordable housing 
  • $150 million Bay Area housing fund 
  • $50 million to support vulnerable populations

Apple joins Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, who have all made contributions in recent weeks to help fix the affordable housing crisis in California. 

San Francisco voters approved the cities largest affordable housing bond—$600 million—with the bill garnering 69.5% of voter support. 

The bill will fund the creation and rehabilitation of around 2,800 affordable housing units. Each unit costs $700,000 to build, and taxpayers would contribute $250,000 to $300,000 per unit.

Additional money in Proposition A will be divided as follows: 

  • $220 million to acquire, build and rehabilitate apartments for extremely low-income and low-income people and families.
  • $150 million to repair and rebuild existing public housing developments.
  • $150 million to acquire and build senior housing.
  • $60 million to acquire, preserve and rehabilitate affordable rental housing and assist middle-income residents and workers to secure permanent housing.

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.
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