The rent is too damn high

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(270)

You look at numbers like this and you go: Whoa. The rent really, really is too damn high. Median rent in San Francisco is now over $3,000 a month. WHo can pay that? Seriously.

The federal government says your rent payment shouldn't be more than a third of your income. That means to qualify for the median -- not the highest, but the median -- rent in this town, you need to be earning $9,000 a month, or $108,000 a year. That is NOT, by any standard, the median income in town.

So let's say you spend half your income on rent. You still have to make $72,000 to afford the median apartment. Crazy stuff. And when local politicians say they support "rent control," that's nice but it's not the point. Controlling rent at $3,000 a month doesn't make the city affordable.

If rent controls applied to vacant apartments, then rents overall, across the city, would rise at the level of inflation -- and people on fixed incomes (social security, disability, SSI) would be able to keep pace. You want to know why there are so many homeless people in this city? One reason: Two decades ago, SSI paid enough every month to cover the cost of an apartment and leave enough to buy clothes and eat. Now, it doesn't pay enough for an SRO hotel, even if you don't buy anything else.

So people wind up on the street.

 

 

Comments

Rents do not currently rise at the level of inflation, its about 60% of inflation with the current rent control rules. If you can do basic math it does not take long for landlords to be losing money compared to other investments and thats why you see so many Ellis Act evictions.

Add rent control to vacated apartments and you'll see even more units taken off the market. Is that what you really want?

But hay lets blame landlords for their selfish ways its way easier than actually looking for solutions.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 11:17 am

Apologist troll. Housing is expensive because finance and the Fed have flooded the market with liquidity that combined with favorable tax treatment is creating yet another bubble.

The solution to a finance instigated housing bubble where housing prices are detached from the local wage base is counter-cyclical rather than pro-cyclical policies.

The housing speculative bubble is what cratered the economy, so this troll expects that doing more of the same will elicit a different, "desirable" outcome.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 11:31 am

I have no idea what you are trying to say or the point you are making. Sometimes you may sound more intelligent if you didn't say anything.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

Rents are expensive in SF because everything is, because it's successful and desirable. Tim might as well ask why rents are expensive in Aspen or La Jolla. Because they are.

But the good news is that nobody is forced to live there, or here. And there are plenty of places, near and far, with much lower rents. It's an individual responsibility to live somewhere within your fiscal power; and not a government imperative to help people live in places they clearly cannot afford.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

but for the well-to-do?

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

Black power does not aspire to marginalize non blacks. Fiscal power conspires to marginalize everyone who is not rich.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

that our poor would all be rich.

Posted by Anon on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 4:54 pm
Posted by marcos on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

No...its called an "Elitist Society" .Simple maybe....but never right

Posted by Guest on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

If you want to call that elitest, then go ahead. But every city and country has it's elite, including communist and socialist states.

Posted by Anon on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

..and after the next dot com bubble burst (and it will), and all of the techie elite have fled to Austin, or Charlotte, or whatever the 'flavor of the month' city is, the true people of San Francisco will remain, as they always have. We may not your 6 figure incomes, but we live here because we love this city, regardless. We are the true heart and soul of this city...you're just passing thru.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 11:48 pm

Except for the part where San Francisco is a place where queer and trans people flock, because it's one of the few places in the country where we are not subjected to (as much) violence and where there are social services and healthcare available for us. So while all y'all white hetero people have the privilege to live anywhere else. We can't - and this is why gentrification is violence.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 05, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

We must not allow the draw bridge which we crossed to flee homophobia in the flyover be pulled up on our watch.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 05, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

Is that really what underpins your ideology? That you are just too scared to try living somewhere else? Somewhere else that might better suit your pocketbook?

And where does that leave straight folks? Are they not entitled to live here because they could live elsewhere?

Creating ghetto's of segregated single-issue identity groups isn't healthy policy. In fact identity politics is general is now widely discreditted. Except on SFBG, perhaps?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 05, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

Troll.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 05, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

and Europe. Are you seriously suggesting that housing be allocated here on the basis of sexual orientation?

Isn't that, er, discriminatory and illegal?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 05, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

Troll.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 05, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

Nope. This isn't trolling. He poses an honest question, one in which you didn't answer.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2013 @ 11:45 am

Structural Violence

Posted by Guest on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

Isn't this fun?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

Somehow, I don't think "because they are" would get you a passing grade on an Econ 101 essay test.

Posted by Hortencia on Jan. 07, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

People that provide public and social services such as firefighters, social workers, police officers, psychologists, nurses etc etc are forced to live in the city in which they provide services for.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 6:38 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

Housing is expensive because supply is low and demand is high.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 07, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

1) Rent-controlled tenants never move
2) NIMBY land use laws deter new build

Unless we repeal RC and building restrictions, it's hopeless to whine about high RE prices.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 07, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

I tend to agree with this. Fundamental issue is city is an economic engine, has unique and compact environment and is tremendously desirable as a consequence. There is no way to ensure everybody gets the ocean view apartment, so you either do a lottery or let folks for whom that is really important be able to pay for it. In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to create more housing to enable more folks to move in. Not everyone is born here.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

not everyone can afford to live here nor is it necessary that many people who happen to be here right now, remain here.

Posted by guest on Jan. 10, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

not the absolute level of rents so much as the gap between market rents and subsidized rents.

And since the subsidy that a landlord provides to a tenant is proportional to the length of time that tenant has been in place, it's is usually older and perhaps poorer tenants who suffer the most from Ellis evictions.

Now, Ellis'ing a building comes with significant drawbacks, particularly that it cannot be re-rented at a market rent for five full years, and because it cannot be condo'ed under the present law. So no owner would willingly Ellis a building unless he felt he really had no choice.

So perhaps rent control can be changed, as per Tim's observation, to some formula that makes rents more consistent across the city rather than favoring longer-term tenants. While giving landlords a more reasonable rate-of-return so that the incentive to Ellis becomes less compelling?

Put another way, would the tenants with the lowest rents be willing to pya more so that other tenants can get a better deal AND to reduce their own risk of being Ellis'ed?

Posted by Ted on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

why not solve income inequality by exacting a pound of flesh from the poorest of the poor?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

but rather to create some level of parity for rents while still allowing a "reasonable return on capital" - to fail to achieve that is to risk constituional counter-arguments on the grounds of it being a government "taking".

Moreover, rent control does not so much help the poor as help incumbents. Any poor person newly arrived in SF faces paying a market rent - rent control doesn't help that person - in fact, it makes that person's plight harder by suppressing supply.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

Also, it appears that the numbers only reflect rent asked in December which implicates that rent-controlled apartments are not included. (since many people won't ever give up their rent-controlled apartments).

Also, it seems that it might reflect only Trulia data which today shows around 165 apts listed for rent vs Craigslist having probably inventory in the 1000's...it would probably be more accurate to take the median amongst all listings from Craigslist as it's possible Trulia skews towards a higher end crowd.

I wonder what the actual median rent is being paid today...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2013 @ 11:01 am

current asking prices. After all, the only people affected by the high asking prices are new arrivals. And Tim claims that they are the lowest priority anyway. A new high-producing knowledge worker or doctor is apparently most less valuable than some unemployable bad artist with pink hair who has been here for 20 years.

Posted by anon on Jan. 09, 2013 @ 11:18 am

by your own numbers, rents are affordable to the average SF'er, if (and only if) they are willing to commit 50% of their income to housing. Now, I'd agree that's a high proportion, but plenty of SF'ers do it, and in fact one person I know pays 2/3 of their income in rent.

Bear in mind also that it's the same metric for homeowners, many of whom have to pay half or more of their income in mortgage payments and property tax. And of course high rents are simply a quid pro quo of high home prices.

Also, and you may know this but it wasn't evident from your comment, the rents for vacant apartments cannot be controlled under State Law. In fact, San Francisco never had such a provision any way (it lost at the polls) but Berkeley and Santa Monica did, which directly led to vacancy control being banned statewide.

In the end, SF is expensive because it has a booming economy and because it is very desirable, scenically and culturally. Not everyone can afford to live in SF and at least we are fortunate to have much cheaper places close by, mostly on the East Bay, accessible by BART, freeways and ferries.

Posted by Ted on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 11:54 am

The economy is thrashing, yet to turn an ongoing profit, because the Fed has dropped free money on speculators using the central banking equivalent of helicopters.

For those who fear inflation so, they have no problem when that inflation drives up the commodity they happen to own.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

It is higher in certain asset markets due to the effects of QE, that is true. But then the alternative is a massive depression. That would lower rents but you'd probably lose your job anyway.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

As a homeowner with a mortgage and small 1 bed condo, I pay 1/2 my income to my mortgage ($2,489) and HOA dues ($456). It's a bit more than 1/2 my income. I then pay my bills, food, insurances, etc.

The fact is all I know are doing the same and can do so because we don't carry subsequent debt such as credit car or car loan debt.

All my friends in SF, make $100,000 - $145,000 a year. They all work in Law, Medical, BioTech, Admin Services, Business Systems, IT, you name it. I even have a friend who sells shoes at Nordstrums on commission only, and she makes $95,000 a year.

I always shake my head when I hear or read people hit on City works for making $100,000. Uh, it's the norm with all I know in the private sector, unless you choose to work at Starbucks, retail or waiting tables. You get out of these low end jobs by getting a degree, or, putting your talents to the task and work your way up the ladder.

I moved into SF in '88, lived in my car for 3 months while I went to law school. I landed a temp job with an Agency (ABA Personnel back then). They kept me working full time for 2 years; working in law firms, accounting, etc. Eventually, a law firm picked me up, starting pay was $98,000 (in 1988). I had no degree other than a few years in college and then my Paralegal Degree. So, it can be done.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

It seems that you were lucky enough to have the money to go to school ...many of us ..who are now out of work..do not have the funds to return to college, and are not able to obtain student loans
(and where ever did you manage to find parking everyday for 3 months).

When only the wealthy can afford to live in a certain city, it creates an Elitist Society.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

Tiberon, Los Altos, La Jolla and so on. ou're really arguing that all towns and cities have to have the same economic distribution and that makes little sense.

Posted by Anon on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

Troll.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

Wow, do you just call someone a troll because you don't happen to agree with their point of view? This is all you have to add to the conversation? Name calling?

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2013 @ 11:57 am

As a homeowner with a mortgage and small 1 bed condo, I pay 1/2 my income to my mortgage ($2,489) and HOA dues ($456). It's a bit more than 1/2 my income. I then pay my bills, food, insurances, etc.

The fact is all I know are doing the same and can do so because we don't carry subsequent debt such as credit car or car loan debt.

All my friends in SF, make $100,000 - $145,000 a year. They all work in Law, Medical, BioTech, Admin Services, Business Systems, IT, you name it. I even have a friend who sells shoes at Nordstrums on commission only, and she makes $95,000 a year.

I always shake my head when I hear or read people hit on City works for making $100,000. Uh, it's the norm with all I know in the private sector, unless you choose to work at Starbucks, retail or waiting tables. You get out of these low end jobs by getting a degree, or, putting your talents to the task and work your way up the ladder.

I moved into SF in '88, lived in my car for 3 months while I went to law school. I landed a temp job with an Agency (ABA Personnel back then). They kept me working full time for 2 years; working in law firms, accounting, etc. Eventually, a law firm picked me up, starting pay was $98,000 (in 1988). I had no degree other than a few years in college and then my Paralegal Degree. So, it can be done.

Posted by James on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

Yes, it can be done - making that sort of annual income - but it can't be done by everyone. Point is that as someone in a high paying job - you rely on those people who work at Starbucks, wait on tables, clean toilets, make sandwiches, work in retail - and they need housing as well.

It's a matter of sustainability. With there being less affordable housing for people who make $30-50,000 a year ... it's going to push those people out - and then whose going to make your coffee, drive your cab, and such?

Working as a freelancer, I've made up to 90k a year, but then I've had years where I've only made 12-20k in the same decade.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

You don't need to live in SF to serve coffee in SF. You can live much cheaper a 10 to 20 minute BART ride away.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

Just about every city in the bay area has astronomical rents now (certainly within a 10 to 20 minute BART ride). Why not just admit it. You don't want the serving class (you know, "the third estate") living anywhere near you, do ya? You're elitist to the core. Well, you know what happened to the aristos of the French Revolution, don't ya? So I hope you know how to run in those Gucci's of yours. Wow, Guillotine and Gucci's. Now, there's an image...your head in a bucket, but oh, the shoes, the shoes! ;)

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

Come with me to West Oakland this week-end. Masses of rentals that are totally affordable, and a BART station that is just 7 minutes from your minimum wage serving job shlepping beverages to the movers and shakers of this great business town.

Heck, the most expensive towns in the US are all resorts like Aspen, CO and Jackson Hole, WY. You think they don't have servers and hotel workers there?

Don't hold your breathe waiting for a French or Russian style revolution here.. The FBI will have you in bars before you know it. Obama will see to it.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

elitist, authoritarian troll.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 04, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

one should spend on housing. Perhaps in cities like SF or NY the ratio is skewed? Anyway - if Tim wants cheaper rent then he should support the building of more units to depress the cost of rents. Instead he constantly advocates for the same policies (more rent control, vacancy control, restrictive policies on the building of new housing) which have caused this problem in the first place. With our new Democratic super-majority he's already lusting to overturn Costa-Hawkins, which no one but the crazies on the left are even thinking about as a solution to coastal California's housing problems.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

live in SF. They come here not because they are equipped to work in our knowledge economy nor because they have the earnings power to sustain a lifestyle here. But because they think SF is "hip" or "cool" or whatever.

In doing that they implicitly agree to pay a very high proportion of their earnigns for the privilege of living here. So why should we subisidize them?

Posted by Anon on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

"privilege of living here"..since when did San Francisco become a Private County Club. I just love these "US vs THEM replies.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

I'm asking why the government should help people to move here who can't afford SF? Why shouldn't they instead live somewhere cheaper?

Posted by Anon on Jan. 03, 2013 @ 4:47 pm