Why is this important

Housing is traditionally one the largest expenses for a typical household. High housing costs relative to household income means fewer resources for food, utilities, transportation, health care, and child care. This push and pull can result in residents being forced to live in overcrowded housing conditions, accepting substandard housing, moving to where housing costs are lower, or becoming homeless.[i] Crowded housing conditions can increase risks for infectious disease, noise, and fires. Lower cost housing is often substandard and contains various environmental hazards, including mold or pests which can trigger asthma, dangerous fixtures that can lead to falls, and toxins such as lead which can cause disability or death. Displaced households can experience stress from losing social relationships within a community, the difficulties associated with finding affordable new housing, and time, energy and money needed to relocate. The health impacts of housing instability are particularly acute for children, and can lead to behavioral problems, educational delays, depression, low birth weight, and numerous other health conditions.[ii]

San Francisco is known for having one of the least affordable housing markets in the entire world. Insufficient supply and high demand, coupled with widening income inequality, make it challenging for low and middle income workers to remain in the city. Policies like rent control and inclusionary housing have been passed to protect a portion of the housing stock from the volatilities of the market.  This indicator tracks the affordability breakdown to help ensure that a large proportion of the Central Market/Tenderloin housing continues to be affordable.

How are we doing?

This analysis breaks down housing affordability into three categories: “rent stabilized” – which includes rent controlled apartments and private single resident occupancy hotel (SRO) rooms; “market rate” –which includes all market rate apartments built after June 8, 1980; and “permanently affordable” – which includes public housing, non-profit managed SROs, and all other non-market rate units (including BMR). Both the CMTL area and the city as a whole have similar proportions of market rate housing – around 50%. The CMTL area however, has a much higher percentage of permanently affordable housing and a lower percentage of market rate housing.

Between 2011-2015, the proportion of housing units that were market rate rose by 6 percentage points in the CMTL area and 1 percentage point citywide. This shift is the result of 2,001 new market rate units in CMTL and 973 units of permanently affordable units. In contrast, the city as a whole gained 8,628 market rate units and 1,872 permanently affordable units; illustrating that roughly half of the city’s new affordable units fall within the CMTL boundary.

Dataset Source

Housing Inventory, SF Planning Department, 2011-2015.


[i] San Francisco Department of Public Health. “Market Rate Rent Affordability.” San Francisco Indicator Project, 2014. http://www.sfindicatorproject.org/indicators/view/193.

[ii]Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII). “Displacement Brief.” Brief. Oakland, CA: Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, February 2016. http://barhii.org/displacement/.