MAP: San Francisco Loses Old Affordable Housing Units Almost as Fast as It Builds New Ones

1 min
A residential complex under construction in January 2016 near Eighth and Townsend streets in San Francisco's Design District. (Dan Brekke/KQED)

San Francisco loses more than one existing affordable housing unit for every two it creates.

That’s according to data from a biannual San Francisco Planning Department analysis of the city’s affordable housing stock over the last 10 years.

Presented to the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee earlier this week, the report underscores the rapid disappearance of existing affordable housing, even as the city scrambles to develop new below-market-rate units.

On average, more than 400 rent-controlled units disappeared from San Francisco each year between 2008 and 2018, due primarily to Ellis Act evictions, owner move-ins, condo conversions and demolitions. In contrast, an average of just 650 new affordable units were built each year during that time period.

"San Francisco is losing stable rent-controlled units at an astonishing rate,” said Maya Chupkov, communications director at the Council of Community Housing Organizations, a local advocacy group.

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The report, she noted, also makes clear that new affordable housing in the city is not being built fast enough.

"We're building enough market-rate housing," Chupkov said. "We are not at all building enough affordable housing to meet our city's and state's goals."

Less than 18 percent of all new units created in the last 10 years were considered affordable, according to the report. That puts San Francisco far behind its voter-approved goal of constructing or rehabilitating 30,000 new housing units by 2020, and making at least a third of them affordable to low‐ and moderate‐income households.

Among other recommendations, Chupkov's group urges the city to step up its Small Sites Program, an initiative spearheaded under former Mayor Ed Lee, to provide loans to nonprofit housing operators to buy rent-controlled buildings at risk of conversion.

"One of the quickest ways to stem that loss is (for the city) to acquire buildings and taking them off the speculative market," Chupkov said.

The map below, showing per district housing data from 2008 - 2018, is based on the San Francisco Planning Department's most recent "Housing Balance" report. The housing balance is the proportion of all new affordable housing units compared to the total number of new housing units (affordable and market rate) built over the last 10 years. In other words, of all housing units built, what percentage were considered affordable to very low, low, and moderate income households? The report calculated the citywide cumulative housing balance rate of 17.8 percent.

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