Prices go up, people move out: San Francisco housing crisis

As housing prices continue to rise globally, homeless rates are proportionally increasing. According to Yale University, 1.6 billion people struggle to find adequate housing, resulting in a homeless population of 150 million worldwide. There are currently 114,000 homeless people in Calif., which is over 25 percent of the homeless population in America.

San Francisco County has one of the highest housing prices with a median of $1,087,599. People with low-income jobs have an annual salary of $69,900 in San Francisco and are inclined to move out of the area with their current salary. According to Marketplace, blue-collar workers can only afford 0.4 percent of homes on the market. As these workers leave the Bay Area, the diversity in jobs and people the location is renowned for may decrease due to the lack of blue-collared workers and an increase in workers with higher paying jobs such as engineers and doctors.

“Because blue-collar workers perform essential jobs ranging from constructing new buildings to fighting fires, we will lose the basis of our civilization if they are no longer able to live in the Bay Area,” Senior Victoria Kang said.

The Bay Area has made efforts to decrease the homeless population with projects and plans towards homeless services. In a $36.8 million plan for Oct. 2019, People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), a nonprofit, and San Diego’s Affirmed Housing are working to build an 84-unit homeless housing building in Downtown San Jose named Villas on the Park. San Jose, Santa Clara County, Calif. Community Reinvestment Corp. (CCRC) and the Bank of America have donated to the construction.

Moreover, the government has also provided services to support low-income families. For example, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program helps low-income families afford a rented home of their choice. 75 percent of vouchers are designated for applicants that earn 30 percent or less than the median salary.

However, many affluent communities in the Bay Area are opposed to the building of low-income housing in their neighborhoods because it may ruin the “aesthetic” or “character” of their neighborhoods. A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California finds that 26 percent of people in the Bay Area believe there was no need to build more homes, arguing that it would pack the neighborhoods and increase traffic. The Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) campaign identifies those who are against big construction projects inconvenient to them, fearing a loss in their neighborhoods’ values. Commonly supported in California, NIMBY also shows signs of divisions in class and race.

Despite some public opposition, the government is taking action. Recently, Proposition C in San Francisco was passed, and it expects to raise around $250 to $300 million for 7,500 people without homes by taxing wealthy companies. Moreover, from 2014 to 2016, funding for homeless services increased by $100 million and currently stands at $279 million.