Valerie Morco, a retired nurse, has been living in a studio apartment at 285 Turk Street for 17 years, since she and her late husband moved from the Philippines. For Morco, now 76, the 49-unit building in the heart of the has been a good place to live, with a strong sense of community, especially among the many Filipino residents.

Mauro Tumbocon and Valerie Morco look over a rent increase notice in Morco’s apartment at 285 Turk Street

Morco was back in the Philippines on a visit last January, when tenants came home to find a piece of paper taped to their apartment doors with an ominous headline: “Change of terms.” The document, from Mosser Companies, the building’s owner, announced increases of up to 70% on their monthly rent.

Morco learned about the rent increase by telephone but her neighbor, Mauro Tumbocon, 64, personally discovered the notice. It pushed his monthly rent from $1100 to $1895.

“Am I reading right?” thought Tumbocon, ahead of a sleepless night. “I thought it must be an error.”

It wasn’t, although the tenants, with help from allies in the neighborhood and at City Hall, were able to get the owner to temporarily withdraw the rent hikes. On July 14, the tenants received new rent increases, this time ranging from 10 to 30 percent. The building is exempt from rent control because of major repair work done in the aftermath of the 1989 earthquake.


The rent increases at 285 Turk Street may be extreme, but a new report from Zillow, the Seattle-based housing data company, documents the strong connection between rent increases, especially at the low end of the housing market, and the explosion of homelessness that has made outdoor encampments a disturbingly common feature of urban American life.

Zillow created a statistical model that adjusts presumed undercounts of homeless people and uses historical data linking rent increases and homelessness. Based on this model, the company predicts that local rent hikes of 5% would boost the number of homeless people by 3,000 in New York, 2,000 in Los Angeles and 260 in Seattle.

In San Francisco, median rents have increased from $2,972 in 2012 to $4,544 in 2016, according to Zillow. In that time, the company’s research shows, the official number of counted homeless people has gone from 5,885 to 6,996. Zillow’s data suggests that those numbers miss about a quarter of homeless people and that the true number of homeless people in 2016 was 8,752.

“We’ve seen so much pressure on rental housing markets in the last few years that it has generated a rental affordability crisis,” said Skylar Olsen, a senior economist at Zillow and contributor to the new report. “Once you get down to lower levels of income, it has spilled over into a homelessness crisis.”

While federal housing guidelines have long recommended that people pay no more than 30% of their income for rent, that standard has become obsolete for huge numbers of renters. A report released in June by Harvard University’s Joint Center on Housing Studies found that 11.1 million households – nearly one in four — spend more than half their income on rent. The recommended 30% threshold is exceeded by almost half — 48% — of renters.

Spending that much on housing puts families in a tenuous position, leaving them vulnerable to becoming homeless in the event of a job loss, medical emergency or other crisis, Olsen said.

“Once rent burdens exceed 35% of income, close to 65% of families save nothing,” she said. “Nothing for emergencies, nothing for retirement and nothing for vacations.”


That’s not a theoretical problem for the tenants of 285 Turk. Tumbocon’s revised rent increase of 25 percent – if it sticks — will force him to spend 55 percent of his $2,500 a month take-home pay on rent, up from the current 44 percent.

“You’re paying what you earn for housing, food and health care, and for utilities,” he says. “There’s nothing left.”

For low-wage workers, rising rents make it almost impossible to afford housing without crowding into small apartments or sharing with other people or families, according to a report released this year by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

In , the report found, a single person would need to work 92 hours a week at the state’s minimum wage of $10.50 an hour to pay the $1,261 market rate for a one-bedroom apartment without paying more than 30% of their income. To afford a two-bedroom apartment renting for $1,608, it would take 2.9 people working full time.

In San Francisco, the most expensive rental market in the country, someone working a standard 40-hour week needs to earn $58.04 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

The explosive rise in rents and homelessness in high-rent urban areas, especially in the west, is, in part, a legacy of decades of federal disinvestment in low-cost housing that began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and is now being echoed in the budget proposals of the Trump administration.

Reagan quickly reversed the federal goal, made with the passage of the Housing Act of 1968, to produce 2.6 million units of housing a year, with 600,000 for low-income families. He gutted the low-income housing budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, based on a report which found “no need for a nationwide direct subsidy program to stimulate the production of rental housing.”

HUD’s budget dropped from $83 billion to about $18 billion (in 2004 constant dollars), according to the Western Regional Advocacy Project, a 12-year-old group that works to address the “root causes” of homelessness and poverty. And from 1995 to 2011, 650,000 HUD-supported units of public or subsidized housing were demolished or converted to market-rate housing, according to WRAP’s research.


The Zillow report linking rents and homelessness clashes with the popular perception that people are homeless primarily because of character failings or pathology, said Megan Hustings, director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

“The stereotypes are still very strong,” Hustings said. “If they run across someone who is homeless, many people think it’s because they’re mentally ill, they drink, they don’t want a job, they don’t want shelter, they chose to be homeless. That’s not true for the large majority of homeless people.”

Olsen and her colleagues at Zillow say the official counts of homeless people released every other year by the federal government significantly underrepresent their actual numbers. Those counts, performed every two years, are based on volunteers counting people on the street and by shelters submitting their census tallies.

Zillow uses statistical modeling to create its own projections of the number of homeless people in each city based on a 2005 study that estimated that only 59% of unsheltered homeless people – those living on the streets as opposed to inside shelters – are actually tallied during the yearly homeless counts. The report makes the conservative assumption that cities do accurately count people living in shelters.

One huge federal housing subsidy that has not been cut is the tax deduction that homeowners receive for the interest they pay on their mortgages. The deduction costs the federal government about $70 billion, and 75 percent of the benefit goes to the top 20% of earners, according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Looking at all the money spent by the federal government on housing — either from revenue lost to tax deductions of funds spent on housing assistance – the Housing Coalition’s report found the vast majority goes to the wealthiest Americans, with $30.1 billion going to households earning $20,000 or less and $85.3 billion going to households earning more than $100,000.

“Do we subsidize housing in this country?” asked Zillow’s Skylar Olsen. “Sure we do, we just tend to subsidize affluent households more than those that are truly in need. It’s an inequity that has been baked in for a long time.”

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  • MissionControl

    Given Zillow's questionable house price modeling (unrelated to this story) and other weaknesses, I question the conclusion they've drawn here. Looks more like they're grasping for numbers to support their findings. Homelessness is not one-dimensional and this reads more like a promotion for Zillow's "value-add" than honest research.

    • Homelessness is not one dimensional. It starts at a certain point, however, then descends from there. If mental illness and substance abuse were prerequisites, there would be far less homeless people in this country. If jobs aren't available or the wages insufficient to meet basic needs, then homelessness can occur before one contracts mental issues or addictions. It can be the causative factor for them.

      Too many people don't want to know about others' problems. Rather than understand they are under the same threat, they prefer to put their heads in the sand. Tragic.

      • Don Sebastopol

        There is a difference between chronic homeless and those down on their luck where "homelessness" is temporary. One option is to move where your job skills are needed and where housing may be more affordable.

        • curiousKulak

          Another option is to move where there are more free services than where you're at. Perhaps thats why 40% of the SF campers come here from elsewhere.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Likely more than 40%.

          • Geek__Girl

            Actually, it is a bit less.

        • No offense, but your conclusion is wrong. Demand for affordable housing outstrips what is available. Often, the only affordable option is a rundown apartment or house in a crime-infested neighbourhood, where women and children are at high risk. Every American should have the right to safe, affordable housing. Regardless the proximity to one's job, there are too few places where it exists.

          • Don Sebastopol

            To find safe affordable housing many do leave the City. That is true at all income levels. No one was forced to move to SF or stay here, or has a right to live in SF. Many people do choose to live in SF and accept less space in a less desirable neighborhood to do so.

            If housing becomes a right the government would need to provide it. But then you would lose your right to live where you want to. The government could tell you how much space you can have and where you can live.

        • Geek__Girl

          That is not always an option. What about people who are disabled, or retired?

  • curiousKulak

    Why do people continue to compare a Minimum Wage worker and a Medium priced rental? Maybe a medium wage worker and a medium priced apt; or a min wage worker and the cheapest rental.

    Now those stats might prove enlightening.

    But I sense illumination is not on the agenda – and hyperbole is.

    • Read the article again. If low income housing is being systematically eliminated, and most Americans are in the low income tax bracket, then a medium priced rental is actually the lowest on the market. A basic need is not being met.

      • curiousKulak

        Are you even listening to yourself? The "medium is actually the lowest on the market"??

        The *article* sez the median rent in SF is $4544. I can go to Craigslist right now and find dozens/hundreds of rents for less than that. THAT is what I suggest a minimum wage worker look for. If they expect to pay $4544, then they should expect to make 3x, 5x, or 10x what they are making now.

        And don't start quibbling about "median" vs "medium". While there may be a slight or larger difference, neither are anywhere near the cheapest available.

        • The real point is if you can only find work at a cheap wage, you should be able to find apartments at lower rents. Find the bit about low income housing being demolished to put up higher priced units. The market is being manipulated by developers not interested in serving the needs of most renters. The medium price is far too high.

          • curiousKulak

            Yes, I guess in an ideal world, you'd find housing (and food, utilities, clothing, child care, schooling, and vacations) at a level of you income. Where IS that world? Disneyland?

            My point, and sorry you got caught in the crosshairs on this – is that most commentators (with an agenda) compare low wages to median expenses (apples-to-oranges), when it should be 'apples-to-apples'.

            I think we can see from the fallout of the Crisis of '08, that the (super)rich have hijacked the housing market – suckered the working class into false and unsustainable debt, then reclaimed that debt and hosing and forced those same people into renting the housing they once ostensibly 'owned' – and claimed a profit in the process. That doesn't somehow excuse the ongoing destruction of housing in places like Detroit, Philly, and Baltimore and many many small towns across the country. But there's a difference btw housing in a place with no jobs, and increased jobs in a place with no new housing.

  • Alex

    'It pushed his monthly rent from $1100 to $1895.

    “Am I reading right?” thought Tumbocon, ahead of a sleepless night. “I thought it must be an error.”'

    If you look on Craigslist, $1895 is about the usual asking price now for a studio in the Tenderloin, so right at market-rate, and not a really outrageous rent, unless you are low-income. There are some old ladies in my complex (rent-controlled) that are paying $400 for studios they got in the early 90s. If you are low-income in SF and not in rent-controlled housing, eventually you will be gone.

    • You do not seem to understand the market rate is artificially high. If a significant number of employed people cannot afford housing, rates are not reasonable. They are in fact outrageous.

      • FunnyBecauseItsTrue

        …That's not how markets work. I agree that the price is outrageous, but the prices aren't artificial, they are caused by a lack of supply in the SFBA.

        • The price is artificial. I live in Fort Lauderdale, have worked in the field, and served on an advisory board to the county commission. I've watched developers sit on empty luxury housing, procure permits to build more, but completely ignore a growing demand for low income housing. Sellers are driving prices up by ignoring demand. Markets can be manipulated.

          • 2Persians2

            Most land developers are the scum of the earth.

    • Deborah Giattina

      Who cares if it's decent for so-called market rate. The point is the cost of living in SF is driving seniors and people living on fixed income out of their homes. We need to find a way to make it affordable for seniors and people working lower wage jobs to live in the city. The upside to you is you won't have to pay $20 for a cup of coffee or $500 a week to get your market-rate one bedroom cleaned.

      • 2Persians2

        What's particularly aggravating for seniors is, many of us had planned to work well into their 70s and beyond. But when you get laid-off at 65, just TRY and find another job! Age-discrimination, which is easily hidden, is rampant in our job markets, and many of us have to take our Social Security out of necessity. Unfortunately we're still expected to pay a premium price for everything from food and healthcare to housing. There should be a lower price on EVERYTHING for seniors. If there's a double-standard which makes us 2nd-class citizens when it comes to work and housing, then there should be a second price standard which will accommodate us.

        • Deborah Giattina

          I couldn't agree more. I lived in Prague in 1990 when the country was transitioning to a democratic free market. Property became privatized, but land owners weren't allowed to raise rent on seniors. Everyone felt it was important to take care of their elders and, as the saying goes, the measure of a society is how it cares for its most vulnerable people.

      • Don Sebastopol

        All of my living relatives and most of my childhood friends moved out of the City for a better standard of living. They have no regrets. There are poor seniors but as a group, seniors are the second wealthiest behind those nearing retirement age.

        People with lower wage jobs still live in the City. However, they are generally young or immigrants and may live in less than desirable conditions and/or are the secondary wage earner in the household. And yes we are paying and will pay more for goods and services for the privilege of living in the City.

        • I can't fathom how anyone can rationalize acceptance that anyone must live in poverty.

          • Don Sebastopol

            It may not be acceptable but it is a reality. The point is that one can often live better by leaving San Francisco. If one chooses to remain in the City they have to pay the price.

          • The point was that you, fortunate to remain unaffected by the problem, have accepted it as reality. That you would turn your back is what I cannot fathom. Nor has it occurred to you that living in a place like San Francisco or Fort Lauderdale is the least of evils for many on the street.

          • Don Sebastopol

            I certainly don't have a solution to poverty. Not sure why California has such a high rate. But I vote and pay taxes. We all make choices in life and sometimes those choices are not good ones. Most of us have to live with our mistakes. I am sorry if you can't afford to live in SF, but there is little I can do to help you. The City cannot afford to build affordable housing for everyone. Most of the affordable housing is paid for by market rate housing. And that program may make housing less affordable.

    • Don Sebastopol

      If you are very low income with few other options like welfare then you may need to leave SF for someplace more affordable. That is unless you are willing to live in less than desirable conditions or have other wage earners in your household.

    • francis_t

      Small mom and pop landlords have to deal with rent control, while wealthy developers who build new housing can charge whatever they want. The system in SF is rigged against the middle class.

  • sfsquirrel

    We need to stop wasting valuable land in SF on market rate ("luxury") apartments and condos. Plenty of that is already in the pipeline. Lets first make sure our most vulnerable are housed — and the market will never do that.

    Supply and Demand fundamentalists never want to think about that fact because they only care about what is affordable to wealthy newcomers. Will increased supply bring down prices? Sure, by a few percentage points, maybe up to 10 eventually. Any more than that and developers stop building because they are speculators, not service providers.

    • curiousKulak

      I didn't realize that "we" were giving away any land? I thought it all belonged to someone already.

      And some might take issue with housing the "most vulnerable" first. What about the school teachers? What about the low-paid hospitality workers? What about the people that make the City run?

      Sounds like you want housing for the druggies, criminals, and the nut-jobs first. Congratulations. Now, who's gonna take care of them?

      • sfsquirrel

        LOL, the druggies, criminals and nut jobs are the ones arguing for market rate housing — they're called YIMBYs and their Big Tech and Big Developer employers and donors will continue to take care of them.

        Teachers and low paid workers are among the most vulnerable. And no one said anyone was giving away land. Stop arguing with your own imagination.

        • curiousKulak

          Squirrel said: "We need to stop wasting valuable land in SF". How do you presume to tell other people what to do with *their* land then? Or are you suggesting City-owned land is somehow being misused.

          Then you make an argument about developers having maybe a 10% margin (below which they would stop building). Do service providers make a profit, or do they just 'give back' (until there's nothing left to give away)? (As a corollary, and I assume you work/have a job — would Squirrel work for nothing, or maybe $5/hr, if it provided a "service"? I don't think so. And yet you seem content to expect this of others).

          If you were going to demonize private parties, might be best to look at your public agencies first, and see where they're (not) providing service. I suggest, in this context, the SF Housing Authority is a good place to start.

      • Heart

        Fact: There is a current glut of newly built luxury/"market rate" units because people cannot afford the artificially and astronomically high rents that greedy developers and investors demand.

        Fact: YIMBYs and Sonja Trauss' BARFbots are funded by developers, speculators, venture capitalists, Tech and the real estate lobby. YIMbots and BARFbots are lobbyists for speculator driven development; they are tools, in that they are funded by developers and those who seek to profit from sky high real estate values and rents.

        Fact: Since 2015, Tech sector jobs in SF have steadily lagged. These jobs are leaving SF as unsustainable startups close down/cut jobs.

        • Dirty Burrito

          Re: Yimbys being funded by developers, where did you get this information? Being aligned with developers is different than being funded by developers.

          -On the Wikipedia page for SfBarf it says they have not taken any money from developers, but did take a large donation from the founder of yelp.

          -Laura Clark of Grow SF said on KALW that 97% of their donations are $150 or less, and they have not received any money from developers.

          -CCHO head Fernando Marti (anti YIMBY) said that CCHO is ~25% funded by small donations. ~50% philanthropy and ~25% affordable housing developers (not necessarily non profit) and other member organizations.

          See here:

          • Foginacan

            They lie. YIMBYS are liars.

            I support smart construction in this city, and smarter zoning regulations, but y'all make it impossible and I find myself arguing against the dumb assness of crazy YIMBY zombies.

          • Dirty Burrito

            Maybe. But has it occurred to you that YIMBYs wouldn't be ashamed to receive funding from developers, and probably wouldn't care to hide it? The idea that it's something to hide is your perspective, not theirs.

          • Foginacan

            They hide it because they're sociopaths and blamers.

            We all know their funding sources, it's pretty damn obvious, so don't blame me or anyone else but Sonja and her loser crew for attempting to hide the shilling.

        • Don Sebastopol

          Where did you get those facts? Is the price of luxury units coming down? That may be good news. If Tech sector jobs are leaving would that reduce the price of housing or maybe not since tech occupations are only 8% of those living in the City. Don't know about the industry. Management, business, and financial occupations are 25% so there are other highly paid workers that live in SF. Also, over 40% of those who live in SF leave the City for work. So even if tech sector jobs leave SF but are located not too far away, it could still have an impact on the price of SF homes.

      • Heart

        Putting all your eggs in the YIMBY speculation fueled Free Market self correcting economy basket isn't working curiousKulak. Proof? Affordable housing crisis. Epidemic of illegal evictions. Thousands of formerly housed residents living in tents on our sidewalks and streets. Unprecedented teacher shortages (because teachers have nowhere to live). But keep banging on that "druggy, criminal, nut job" drum. To be perfectly honest: the biggest nut jobs I've encountered to date have been Sonja Trauss and her rabid ranting followers. They deserve their own planet. Or cave.

        • Dirty Burrito

          Heart, we don't have a free market because zoning artificially restricts the supply of housing.

        • Dirty Burrito

          I know you hate to think of housing as a commodity, but bear with me.

          Imagine there is a shortage of oranges, and the price is now $5 for an orange. At the same time, if you want to plant an orange orchard, you need a permit, and there is a very limited supply of supply of permits available from the government. The supply of oranges is rising, but the demand is rising faster and the result is high prices.

          So is that $5 price a free market price? No, because government policy is artificially constraining the supply of oranges. Notice something else funny happens here: land permitted for orange growing becomes very expensive, and the orange farmer who buys land at market rate will see slim profits. So it's easy to arrive at the conclusion that oranges are expensive because a big part of the cost is land. Also, farmers who obtain permits for new orchards are receiving a windfall and could be seen as profiteers.

          Now, housing seems very different from the hypothetical orange scenario, but one thing is the same: government policy modulates the value of the land. This is why land zoned for high rise construction is much more valuable than adjacent lots zoned for single family homes, and why land zoned for single family homes is much more valuable than land you cannot build on. It's why water meters in Bolinas sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and why some of the cheapest lots in the bay area are ocean front property that cannot be built upon.

          So how would you fix the housing crisis, Heart? Price controls? Subsidies? Enlighten us.

          • Now imagine the orange seller purposely manipulates his supply to keep the price, and therefore profit margin, maximized. Imagine the developer only builds luxury high rises even though there are far more customers looking for affordable housing.

          • Dirty Burrito

            The growers don't need to manipulate the market, the government is already doing it for them. They might choose to grow a more labor intensive orange that commands a higher price, so they may get more revenue from a fixed amount of orchard. Guys like Tim would accuse them of growing "luxury oranges" and not serving the needs of the average person, but they're just responding to the perverse incentives government policy has created.

          • Actually, several local and state governments have regulations requiring a certain percentage of new development goes to low income housing. Developers routinely lobby to have those regulations waived or overturned. It's not the government's fault capitalists practice capitalism in the extreme.

          • Dirty Burrito

            I am well aware of that.

            In my orange scenario, if we forced growers to sell 10% of their oranges at below market rate, say $2.50, in a lottery to people who earn less than 130% of AMI, would that "solve" the shortage? No way.

            And if some growers try to get the 10% requirement waived would that surprise you?

            What if we nationalized the orchards and cut out those evil profiteering capitalist orange growers? The government could sell oranges in a lottery for just $1 each, and pay farm workers living wages. Surely that would solve the problem, right?

            Again, the real problem is a shortage of permits for orchards, not the growers, not the highly paid tech bros paying top dollar for oranges, not capitalism.

            I'll say it again: the market does not provide affordable housing because we do not have a free market. I believe in subsidized housing, but subsiziding housing for families making $150k because we can't make the adult decision to zone appropriately for our growing population is totally asinine. Everywhere you look people are trying to prevent new housing in an attempt to control the racial and economic makeup of their neighborhoods, and the not so surprising result is a shortage across the board.

          • I disagree. In my opinion, it is a free market. The shortage exists because developers are not motivated to apply for low-income permits and are free to do otherwise. They freely choose to invest solely in luxury housing to maximize their profits.

            Some states have found solutions. New York requires every luxury building to provide some apartments to low-income applicants. The city has moved to prevent socio-economic segregation within such properties when it has arisen.

            Governments can provide sufficient incentives for developers to build quality low-income housing and mandate quality property management subsequent to construction. However, when affluent voters fail to demand humane solutions, instead seeking to sweep the homeless under the political rug, they have no reason to do so.

          • Dirty Burrito

            In a free market, uninvolved 3rd parties don't control or limit the supply of a commodity.

            Andy Warhol paintings are expensive, in part because the supply is finite. The market for his paintings is free, because there is no government or 3rd party limiting the supply or the price.

            If LA had enacted measure S and there was a moratorium on building, the housing market would not be free because the government would be limiting the housing supply at the behest of residents.

            In a truly free market anyone could build anything on private property, without regards to traffic impact, shadows, setbacks, structural hazards, fire safety etc.

            We know regulation adds to the cost of housing and reduces the odds of any given project being economically viable, and therefore constrains the supply of housing to some degree. The question is how much? This is hard to answer definitively, but there are clues.

            Gyourko et al have attempted to answer this through an analysis of hedonic land use. I believe their finding was zoning added $280k to the cost of one unit of housing in San Francisco in 2013. Interestingly, in Bolinas, the cost to buy a water meter (and therefore the entitlement to build) in recent years has been $200-$300k.

            I think the most telling piece of data is the decline of housing starts in recent decades. See here, note multifamily starts have been historically low for a whole generation:


          • This being a free discourse, you can use as many metaphors as you like. I will freely point out their flaws, although I won't ease my conscience by ignoring the reality. In this case, developers are hardly uninvolved 3rd parties. They are causative actors in the process who very much do control and limit the supply of a commodity, that being low-income housing. I stand by my position.

          • Dirty Burrito

            I didn't use any metaphors in my last post, those are concrete examples.

            How exactly do you feel developers are manipulating the market? Are they buying up all the developable land and to keep the supply low and prices high? Please explain.

          • From the article (blockcaps mine):

            "The explosive rise in rents and homelessness in high-rent urban areas, especially in the west, is, in part, a legacy of decades of federal DISINVESTMENT in low-cost housing that began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and is now being echoed in the budget proposals of the Trump administration."

            “We’ve seen so much pressure on rental housing markets in the last few years that it has generated a rental affordability crisis,” said Skylar Olsen, a senior economist at Zillow and contributor to the new report. “Once you get down to lower levels of income, it has spilled over into a homelessness crisis.”

            "For low-wage workers, rising rents make it almost impossible to afford housing without crowding into small apartments or sharing with other people or families, according to a report released this year by the National Low Income Housing Coalition."

            Simply put, these paragraphs say developers are doing worse than ignoring low-income housing opportunities. They are in fact converting existing low-income properties into luxury housing at such a rate renters have no alternatives, including moving to other neighborhoods.

            You are disputing this despite both public and private research supporting the position. I understand. You like capitalism. You don't want to consider it may have detrimental effects on society when unchecked. Republicans and libertarians are like that, too.They think constitutionally guaranteed freedom doesn't require checks and balances, despite the system originally, intentionally being so designed.

            A free market is like anything else so designated. Lions, tigers, bears, wolves, even stray dogs, cats, and more exotic pets like pythons. Society demands control. If your beloved free market is allowed to run unchecked, then it is anarchic, wild, unsafe. It requires control too.

          • Dirty Burrito

            Martin, If you were elected housing czar, and your job was to make housing affordable and production sustainable in the long term, and you could build housing wherever you like, and levy taxes to get funding from whomever,

            1. How many housing units would you mandate annually to meet demand?

            2. Where would these units be built?

            3. Where would we get the money?

            4. Would you make any changes to our current laws to reduce the cost of each unit? Like height limits for example?

            5. Would you allow neighbors to give input on projects, complain about shadows or sue you under CEQA, even if it means falling behind in production?

            Keep in mind:

            a. The Bay Area gains nearly 100k residents every year

            b. One unit of affordable housing in San Francisco now costs $591,000

          • You're right. It's impossible. Let 'em all die on the street.


          • Dirty Burrito

            Sure, that's logical. But RE question #5, it's hard to imagine our current review process allowing all that housing to be built, am I wrong? 33% of LA residents voted for measure S, which means 33% of them want no additional housing at all.

            And, no, I don't love capitalism. I don't care who builds the housing, or for whom it is built, or whether it's subsidized or not, only that it gets built. I don't think inclusionary zoning is a good tool because it reduces the viability of private development and results in less housing getting built overall. Density bonus makes a lot of sense if implemented properly, because it doesn't necessarily reduce the viability of private development and it allows more units to be built on a per project basis.

            Here's another conundrum: why is it possible to buy a brand new, unsubsidized, detached single family home in Tokyo for $300k? That's just half the money needed to construct one unit of affordable housing in San Francisco. Additionally, mortgages run as low as 1% in Japan, so the monthly payment can be less than $1000. See here:


            Also an article about housing costs and land use policy in Japan:


        • Don Sebastopol

          What epidemic of illegal evictions? Chronic homelessness is not caused by evictions. The teacher shortage is statewide. SF has an easier time recruiting and retaining teachers than other Bay Area jurisdictions with higher pay and more affordable housing. Currently, 23,210 teachers live in SF, 10,266 paid by government.

    • Don Sebastopol

      The market rate apartments and condos pay for the below market rate housing. There is an upper limit, a price where people not able or willing pay. You are correct the number of those with higher paying jobs have increased while employers with blue and white collar middle-class jobs have been leaving the City. More people can afford the higher priced units.

  • MKR

    At least our President is on the verge of being evicted from his current residence – there is some good news out there

  • 2Persians2

    I currently spend almost 2/3 of my retirement income on rent. The last increase made it impossible to pay the month's bills without hitting up my savings every month, and nothing new ever goes INTO savings. I live 30 miles away from the city. One more rent increase, and I may be forced to move so far out into the boonies that I'll rarely see my friends (who live in the city) anymore. That would be very isolating. If the living-in-the-boonies option didn't pan out, I'm already starting to prepare mentally for living in my car. Where will all this real estate and rental greed end? Will it end in 50% or more of America's people living in substandard housing, or having no home at all?

  • Don Sebastopol

    High rents are not the cause of chronic homeless. It probably does impact temporarily homeless. I believe around 2% of those evicted become "homeless."

  • francis_t

    The mortgage interest deduction saves me about $4K in federal taxes but $6.5K in property tax more than makes up for any "savings"

    • curiousKulak

      And look what the City is doing with your money – spending it on employee salaries (Mayor Lee makes $300k++ more than the Governor or President), perks, benies, and dubious programs of all ilk. $600,000,000 to redo Market St?!?

  • David MySky

    Rental housing should be a nonprofit industry.