Map: San Francisco's Affordable Rent Gap Is Enough to Make You Sick ... Literally

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

housing map
San Francisco Department of Public Health

Looking for an apartment to rent in San Francisco?

Brace yourself.

Last year, the City by the Bay earned the dubious distinction of having America's most expensive rental market, beating out longtime heavyweight New York. Due in part to the surge in the region's tech-fueled jobs market (some "friend" indeed, Zuckerberg!) and the city's longstanding shortage of affordable housing units, the spike has led to jaw-dropping rents, with the median monthly rate of a mere studio at more than $2,200 a month, according to

So for those of us not bringing in the 7-figure paychecks, how rough have things actually gotten out there? The interactive map below, produced by the San Francisco Department of Public Health and designed by Stephanie May, shows a housing affordability gap that may just send you packing.

According to the data, it takes earnings from more than five minimum wage jobs to afford the rent in a two-bedroom apartment in neighborhoods like the Mission and Potrero Hill, and more than seven minimum wage jobs to afford a similar unit in SoMa and the Financial District.

Using Craigslist rental listing figures from the second-half of 2012, and median income data from the American Community Survey, the map shows just how big the chasm is between median income and fair market rents in different parts of the city, and the number of minimum wage jobs a renter would have to work to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment at those rent levels. (Fair market rent is the price to which 40 percent of listings are less than or equal in a given neighborhood.)


Note that the wage calculations are based on San Francisco's 2012 minimum wage, which has since gone up to $10.55.

So why is this being considered a health issue? As the department explains:

"Residents who live in poor housing quality are at greater risk for problems associated with home deterioration such as compromised climate control, growth of mold and mildew, pest or rodent infestation, lead and other environmental hazards. Substandard housing is associated with respiratory tract irritation, allergic reactions, asthma and eye, nose, and throat irritation, and causes significant short-term and long-term health effects. These can include respiratory illness and disease, asthma attacks, cancer, and premature death."