Tiny House in My Backyard (THIMBY) is a project of Sustainable Housing at California (SHAC), an interdisciplinary group of students at the University of California, Berkeley. Construction is underway—right now, the THIMBY team is building a 240 square foot tiny house on wheels. They are looking for a City of Richmond homeowner to host this THIMBY house in their backyard upon its completion later this year.
The City of Richmond, California, recently renewed an ordinance (No. 07-21 N.S.) creating a pilot project allowing tiny houses on wheels to serve as accessory dwelling units (ADUs). These units will help alleviate the shortage of affordable housing available to low- and middle-income households, as well as working, formerly homeless individuals and small families in search of permanent housing. THIMBY partnered with nonprofits Tentmakers, Inc. and Care Association to complete construction of a “park model” tiny house on wheels and is seeking homeowners who may be interested in hosting the dwelling in their yard.
You can help!
You can provide a corner of your yard to help a family have a roof over their heads. Help create a new kind of affordable housing and join us as the first homeowner to catalyze this movement in Richmond!
In spite of the challenges of 2020, in the middle of lockdown this spring we succeeded in helping a single mom and her young son rent a home. Thanks to the support of donors who gave just after the holidays of 2019, we were able to provide the Black family with the security deposit needed for the family to move in. Though the rent is still too high for Ms. Black to work a single full-time job (she has two jobs), the rate was a little lower than it was a year before.
Still, a Lack of Affordable Housing
Sadly, rent rates are not coming down fast enough, and though many households have been moving and taking advantage of lower rents, other households are still unable to afford the lowest rents of the San Francisco Bay Area, relying on the kindness of friends and neighbors to house them in rooms.
Construction costs are even worse, and they keep the prices of housing high. While other parts of the country are able to build homes at $150 a square foot, even with increased costs for materials, general contractors in counties of the Bay Area quote estimates at $1,500 per square foot. How can it cost 10 times more? Part of the problem is that contractors must pay their workers fair wages in order to afford living in the homes they build. It’s a chicken and egg problem.
Our Next Step
Plans are brewing for making truly affordable housing in the Bay Area—and the rest of the country—a reality. But to make this happen, we need funds. More on this to come.
I am writing to encourage you to promote opening up more locations in the state where Tiny Homes are approved. I am an active senior/still-working artist in Oakland who is going to need a new place to live in the near future. I am currently living in the house of a wonderful, elderly landlady, who may decide/need to move to easier housing at any time. To be honest, after this space is no longer available, there is no way I could afford to stay in my neighborhood and keep all the resources that I have come to know. I have applied to several subsidized senior apartments, but know that actually getting a place can require a long wait, if they manifest at all.
I could afford to acquire a simple live-in studio on wheels, or a trailer, but do not know where I would be able to park. Especially with the amount of homelessness and now complications from COVID-19, I don’t understand why Tiny Homes are not seen as a potential solution for so many people who are struggling and suffering.
I know the limitations for ADU’s are opening up, but this does not help the person who does not own the property, as they are mostly required to have a foundation, rather than be on a trailer.
Please do what you can in this regard, and let me know who I should speak to locally in the Oakland/Berkeley area. Thank you for all you are doing to keep California safe during this tragic time.
Since deciding to change our focus from tech to real property, we have become extremely busy. Our organization has grown in less than a year from two active volunteers to 11. And we continue to grow.
Affordable Housing in the San Francisco Bay Area
In November 2018, Sonoma County enabled an innovative provision allowing the construction of multiple cottages on lots zoned for single-family houses. After much research, we decided to pursue building 16 tiny houses on foundations ranging from 300 square feet to 800 square feet each. Some houses will be single story. Some will have lofts for extra space. All will be manageable and affordable.
Sonoma County has taken an important step for making affordable housing viable. The cost to build an “affordable” unit in San Francisco is estimated at more than $600,000. The smallest “affordable” SF apartment tends to be around 450 square feet. In the meantime, people are living in RVs and cars. But the Cottage Housing Development provision takes into account that very few people are able to take advantage of conventional affordable units. The provision allows for the construction of tiny houses as homes. They may be small, but they’re bigger than vans. And they cost much less than $600,000 — 85% less.
Truly Affordable Homes
To add insult to injury, the rent rate of San Francisco’s so-called affordable units is still unaffordable for a minimum-wage worker. And they are allowing people to pay 50% of their incomes for these units. But our plans will enable someone making $11 an hour to live comfortably on no more than 30% of their income.
Our goal is to build in Petaluma where there is a SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) station that enables people to reach San Francisco without a car. The cottage provision can be used anywhere in the county where there is access to city services including sewage treatment.
Help Us Reach Our Goal
By the end of 2020 we hope to complete construction of 16 houses in Sonoma County for up to 41 people. And then we want to build more. But to begin, we need to raise $850,000. To achieve this, we need all the help we can get. How can you help?
We set out with a grand vision of helping thousands of people find homes. But there was a grand barrier: our plan didn’t appeal enough to those who needed the help. We had launched an effort to find participants for a demonstration version of the Care For Us site. Should be easy, right? It wasn’t. While people found the concept “interesting,” it wasn’t enough to get them to sign up. Out of a dozen people we invited, only one person signed up. The people we asked were sober, had income, and could not be picked out of a crowd behaving as an outlier. Some had non-vehicular roofs over their heads; some didn’t.
We didn’t ask their reasons for not joining, though one person declined after reading our waiver which stated that this program had no guarantees and that participants were responsible for the information they share on the site.
We are Learning
Learning from this failure, we decided to pursue affordable housing in a more practical manner: build housing. We still believe that connecting people to vacant units is possible, but the approach needs to be different. Since building a web platform and building housing both take time, we weighed their differences and decided that providing places to live — with consideration of my architectural design study in Scandinavia — is the direction that is wiser and more likely to be effective.
Focused on Outcomes
At the same time, we want to produce outcomes. So far, Care Association has provided individuals and charities with goods, and we have supported individuals’ mental health assisting them in emotional regulation. While providing goods is intended through the still-planned Care For Us website, mental health support requires one-on-one contact. To provide this support, we are currently exploring ways to expand our reach.
These changes require more manpower, which seem to be timely since the number of volunteers on our roster increased from zero in May 2018 to twelve as of this month, including five who are currently active. We hope that by June we will have a volunteer taking over Executive Director duties to help us grow.
Slow and Steady
Building Care Association is like construction. It’s taking longer than expected. In spite of the setbacks, we are still hopeful and remain focused on our vision of affordable housing for all.
It’s too soon to share the details of our plan to create positive outcomes. I will say this: history has a lot to teach us, and we are applying those lessons to our approach.
This long-overdue update on Care Association comes after many rainy days in San Francisco, and I don’t just mean precipitation. Other nonprofit directors weren’t joking when they advised me how long it can take to get a project off the ground. Unfortunately, our web project has run aground, for now anyway. Now I’ve got the tasks of researching and rewriting our strategy.
We Are Learning
In late 2018, we learned that most people are not the risk-takers required to launch a website that has never been done, one that connects property owners and prospective tenants so they can help each other. But we have not given up.
During this learning period, I also worked one-on-one with low- or no-income individuals to find housing and to support their mental health. Thus far, our greatest success has been with mental health support alleviating stress and anxiety with emotional resolution using body sensation identification, a process taught by our Secretary, Cedric Bertelli. I wish we could say we helped someone find a home, but the amount of effort it took to place one small family started to become a full-time job in itself. (We still hope to help this family find a home. If you know of one, please email me!)
Working on a New Strategy
Since we could not find enough participants to build the Care For Us demonstration website, the project went on the backburner. Today we are rewriting our strategy to include real property development to create affordable housing, which if all goes well may have incentives for investment (i.e., we will look for a loan unless an angel appears with $3.5M). Not enough homes are being built. And with my Urban Studies background and architecture experience, development seems like the best route to take.
Our new strategy also considers expanding our reach, offering pro bono emotional resolution services to those who are cost-burdened, especially those who face social microaggressions. Microaggression is subtle language denigrating a person because of a lack of social privilege. Upon reading Cornell University sociologist Richard Swedberg’s Principles of Economic Sociology, I am convinced that lack of confidence among low- and middle-income workers is hindering progress for affordable housing. But we can foster the confidence needed for people to find their own solutions to economic problems.
There is still a dire need to represent a population that struggles needlessly because of one simple problem: housing is too expensive. No one should be paying more than 30% of their gross income for shelter. Nor should anyone need to work more than 40 hours a week just to pay rent. Because of the need, we are pushing forward to find and implement solutions.
How to Help
There are many ways you can help us progress:
Volunteer. We need help with business planning, strategy, web development, WordPress administration, marketing, real estate law, and community planning.
Donate. Make a financial contribution with the button or to the mailing address at the bottom of this letter. If you’re in the Bay Area, donate unwanted clothes, furniture, or household items in good condition to Community Thrift Store on Valencia Street in San Francisco.
Share. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; and tell your friends about us. Read our blog. If our articles make sense, forward them on.
Give Feedback. Comment on our Facebook page and Instagram posts. Send us a message. Maybe this newsletter raises your eyebrows, i.e., only $3.5M for development? (It’s only part of a long-term strategy.) We can use all the help we can get, and getting feedback is helpful.
Provide Space. We are looking for locations where we can conduct one-on-one emotional resolution sessions, and where we can teach groups of about 8 to 10 people how to resolve difficult emotions on their own.
Achieving housing for all takes community effort on all levels — from government official to taxpayer to person on the street. Let’s make housing happen together.
Care is kind.SM
Cohousing is a form of housing created as an intentional community in which people share household tasks, resources, and space. Living cooperatively can reduce cost of living and prevent isolation or loneliness. For thousands of cohousing residents, it has become the only way to live within their economic means.
The term came into use with the innovative advances to social housing in Denmark from the early 1970s. Housing was in short supply and demands resulted in progressive movements such as the “free state” of Christiania and the rise of social democracy. Cohousing may take the form of a cooperative or as a collective. Cooperatives are generally formed for economic sustainability and often have written bylaws. Some are legally structured as corporate entities or associations. Collectives tend to have a less formal structure.
In real estate, cooperatives are legal entities formed to share the repayment of debt on real property (land and structures). Many cooperatives also share common spaces and amenities, such as gyms. Lesser known, cooperative living may not be structured for land ownership. And it differs from legal cooperatives as well as from houses shared by multiple roommates in intention. While the term cooperative has been used to mean different things, the main idea of cooperative housing is that it is formed with the intention of sharing the burdens of cost and responsibility, and for fostering strength of community.
While cohousing includes a range of different shared arrangements, economically-viable cooperative housing is an option for affordable housing that needs more attention.
Andrew, an owner of a young business, shares a glimpse of living in a highly affordable cohousing arrangement in Cambridge, MA, in the following video.
For more information on cohousing and cooperatives, visit the following links:
We are proud to announce that this month Care Association has entered a partnership with Community Thrift Store at 623 Valencia Street, San Francisco. Bring your salable stuff to the store any day of the week from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Drop it off at the loading dock on Sycamore Street and tell them it’s for Care Association. Donating it on our behalf will help us help people find affordable housing.
The store takes anything that sells and fits in their store such as (copied from their site):
From the store’s proceeds, both the store and partners benefit. By telling Community Thrift that you want to support Care Association, a sticker with a number for our charity goes on the items donated.
After making a trip to the donations dock, you can reward yourself by visiting the store for a thrifty treasure. In the midst of my KonMari-method tidying, I went to the store and found small boxes and dishes to organize what’s left.
How Your Donation will Help
Community Thrift Store is a valuable resource for about 200 local charities. It goes without saying that real estate is expensive, and most local charities are not Goodwill, Salvation Army, or a church. Your donation will help keep the store’s operations going so that us property-less charities have a thrift shop to call our own.
Your donation will also help Care Association get a little closer to our vision of matching vacant units and rooms to tenants. We are also working on a plan to develop affordable housing. Still other plans are on the horizon. The faster we can raise the funds we need, the faster we can implement care not only in the Bay Area but also around the rest of the U.S.A.
We are starting in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is another reason why donating to Community Thrift means something. Rest assured that whatever money we receive through the store will go toward benefiting the Bay Area.
***EDIT: Some of this advice may seem like wishful thinking, because in some ways it is. But acting purposefully in certain ways, even if wishful, has been known to make others respond in kind. ***
When I had five-figure consumer debt, I tried to find a place to live in San Francisco that would allow me to get rid of that debt in a year. Are you laughing? Because it is laughable unless you have a six-figure salary. Most Bay Area residents do not earn six figures. Yet most housing in the area is unaffordable to the lower-income masses. It makes no sense — unless you’re a greedy property owner sitting on a vacancy until finding a six-figure-income-earning tenant. (A single person earning $100k a year can comfortably afford $2,500 – $2,750 in housing expenses.)
There will be competition no matter what, no thanks to the lack of new housing construction. But there are actions one can take to increase chances for finding housing that don’t involve signing up for a lottery or waiting list.
Tip 1: Save Your Cash
Saving cash is especially important if your credit score is less than Good. How much should you save? Some places require one month’s rent as a security deposit plus the first month’s rent, though it’s better to have at least two months of security plus rent in the bank. But if your credit is Poor to Fair, you might need more cash. Try to save at least six months of rent; even better if you can save a year’s worth that can be paid in lump to a landlord. This cash may be the factor that beats the competition.
Saving cash is much easier if you aren’t already paying an arm and a leg for housing, maybe living in your vehicle, on the street, or on someone else’s couch. If you’re already cost-burdened by housing, consider getting a roommate. I Airbnb’d an inflatable mattress in my living room for $40 a night. My building’s management knew I was in financial trouble, and they let me get away with it for a little while. But maybe your landlord will let you use Airbnb if you remain transparent about how much money you make. (Full disclosure: that link refers you via my personal Airbnb account, and if you sign up through it, I get $300 Airbnb credit. Hey, I don’t have a salary.) Make sure to check your lease for restrictions and amend it if necessary.
At the least, make changes to your spending or lifestyle. If you drink alcohol, stop and put that drink money into a savings account. Find something else to do. I found a Scrabble game at the thrift store for $3 to occupy time with friends in lieu of going to a bar. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon has a saving trick: use shopping desires to move money into savings.
Tip 2: Improve Credit-worthiness
Even someone with a perfect credit score can have trouble finding affordable housing, but if your FICO score is below 600, you’re in real trouble. Unfortunately, paying rent every month isn’t going to raise it. Unless you have a mortgage or other qualifying loan from a financial institution, the only way to raise your score is to have, use, and regularly pay off a credit card.
I have a credit card for exactly that purpose. I use it to pay my phone bill, an expense already in my budget. I have another credit card for emergencies, which is used rarely, and if it is used it’s paid on time every month. The key to raising a score with a credit card is to ensure payments of more than the minimum are made on time every billing period. Do not just make minimum payments, because if you use the card for other purchases, the account may appear as “revolving,” which is not good for your FICO score. Besides, you may end up paying more in interest than for the actual purchase.
Tip 3: Lobby for Decreased Rates
Many property management companies will accept tenants for market-rate units even though the rates are higher than 30% of tenants’ gross income. Many of San Francisco Housing Authority’s “affordable” units allow tenants to be cost-burdened having them pay 50% of income on rent. We need to demand rents to come down or demand legislation that makes them come down. San Francisco has such legislation in the works for a tax on vacant units. If you’re in San Francisco, tell your city supervisor to support the vacancy tax ballot; and then vote for it in November 2019. If you’re in another city, propose appropriate legislation to influence affordability for your jurisdiction. That might mean starting a petition to approve new housing construction, like multi-family buildings. As the market dictates, if there is more housing availability, the rates decrease. While we don’t have time to wait for rates to fall, we can do something.
Or just ask
You can also ask for a decrease in rent rate. Asking for a decreased rate on a unit that received a dozen applications probably isn’t going to work. But if a unit has been vacant for longer than a month, the owner may be asking too much rent for it. Let’s say your budget is $1,600. If a homeowner is asking $1,700, ask, “Would you take $1,600?” The worst that can happen is the homeowner says “No.”
A neuroscience study by Reuter et al. (2011) found that 72% of the study’s participants had a genetic predisposition for altruism. If most homeowners are altruistic, then some might accept less for rent.
Negotiation can help. It may help the owner to know if you have home repair skills, if you’re a neat freak, or if you’re industrious and will help keep the grounds clean. An example of a home repair skill is changing the stopper in a toilet tank. A good stopper costs about $6. Calling a plumber to fix a leaking toilet tank costs at least $200. These days, you don’t even need tools to change it. I just changed one myself the other day without even turning the water off.
Tip 4: Use Humor
Homeowners whose vacancies you apply for or their agents will remember you better if you make them laugh. Researchers Curry & Dunbar (2013) found that shared humor increases altruism. Altruism not only has genetic markers, but it can also be influenced by neurotransmitters in the brain. Mirthful laughter reduces stress hormone levels and releases endorphins. Granted, a property owner or agent may not have the same humor as you, but different humor and new jokes can be learned. Get the owner or agent to laugh, and you may tap into that person’s altruism.
Tip 5: Increase Your Social Circle
If anyone in the Bay Area is able to find housing below market rate that’s not a share and not subsidized, there’s a good chance the lessee was previously known to the lessor. Care Association is working to increase these chances with our forthcoming Care For Us platform. But for now, build face-to-face connections with people, because someone knows someone who has a vacant unit.
Connecting with people face-to-face these days can be difficult. If you’re uncomfortable in social situations, you may be at a disadvantage, but building connections with others is still possible. You may need to find different ways to connect with people. Some ideas:
Spend time on Nextdoor.com if you can get an account, engage in conversations, and find opportunities to acquaint yourself with others.
Join a Meetup.com group and participate in meetings.
Many homeowners prefer to not rent out their vacancies but prefer peace and quiet, and the feeling of privacy. Some homeowners simply don’t want just anyone to live with them. They want someone they like and respect, and who will leave willingly if they no longer want a tenant. If you meet a homeowner like this, you need to be willing to comply.
Related to increasing the number of people in your life, connect to people who can provide positive references. Positive references should indicate that you’re reliable and trustworthy. Make sure that these people you count as references are open to being contacted by potential leasing agents and homeowners. If finding references is difficult, then you’ve got work to do that might involve taking a sober look in the mirror. I’ve been there.
Tip 6: Find a Roommate
This follows increasing your social circle. As you get acquainted with more people, you might find that certain personality types are more compatible with you than others. Jungian personality typology can help with this. My personal favorite resource is Humanmetrics.com. The website appears Web 1.0, but the content can be useful if tried. Maybe a potential roommate is a homeowner with a spare room.
What if making connections to people is hard for you? Psychological researcher Abigail Marsh recommends learning to stop making yourself important to learn to have compassion. Compassion leads to acts of kindness. People notice acts of kindness. Acts of kindness draws people in and opens up opportunities for making connections.
Tip 7: Lower Your Expectations
The media is filled with luxury. Popular Instagram posts show mansions, designer goods, and everything else expensive. Celebrities popularize wealth. Yet less than 100 years ago, up to 20 families crowded into one 4-story New York City building just 25 feet wide and 100 feet deep. If five families lived on one floor, each family may have had roughly 450 square feet of space. Today, people with low income expect multiple bedrooms in more than 1,000 square feet for a single family. Privacy and having one’s own room has become so important that renters are willing to be cost-burdened, paying 50% or more of their income for housing.
Spending more than half of one’s income on housing will not improve life. If anything, it will perpetuate impoverishment. Look for housing that costs 30% to 33% of your gross income, including the cost of utilities. This may mean finding a room instead of an apartment. It may mean sharing a studio. It may mean moving away. If you’re fortunate, it may mean finding an altruistic landlord with a vacancy and taking it even if it’s not the perfect place.
Tip 8: Simplify Your Life (Go Tiny)
Many people who have downsized their belongings, keeping only what they need, or keeping only what sparks joy a la Marie Kondo, have found themselves feeling less anxious and more stable. Downsizing belongings thus enables requiring less space. Less space is less maintenance and lower cost. By downsizing, living expectations no longer require lowering; rather, they simply change.
Consider joining the tiny house movement, influenced by Sonoma County resident Jay Shafer, known by the tiny house community as the godfather of the movement. If a family of eight 100 years ago could share 450 square feet, then you can live in a tiny house, which ranges in size. Shafer’s house is 89 square feet, but they can be larger. In general, going tiny means moving out of a conventional house or apartment into much smaller spaces. Tiny houses on wheels tend to be no more than 360 square feet.
There are barriers to tiny house living, especially in the Bay Area. For one, they aren’t easy to find, and empty lots are expensive. Nor is it easy to find a place to park a tiny house on wheels and live in it legally. RV parking is limited in the Bay Area, but people have been able to occupy houses on wheels parked on RV pads. Maybe someone in your social circle knows someone with a driveway where one could park. Or maybe rent a tiny house on Airbnb, connect to the owner, and see if becoming a tenant is possible. When I managed an Airbnb listing, I got tired of the revolving door and settled with a roommate.
Municipalities vary in their support of tiny houses. Sonoma County planning department recognizes tiny houses as livable structures. And Marin County has a temporary waiver on the $1,500 permit fee for building separate accessory dwelling units and junior dwelling units inside the main house up to 500 square feet. Alternatively, 120-square-foot structures are allowed without a permit. David Smith in Marin builds attractive structures this small called Backyard Eichlers. His sheds have been installed in the backyards of both Marin and San Francisco counties. For those living with family, it’s not exactly moving out, but it can be an improvement.
The best part of tiny house living in my opinion is that the options are endless, especially for houses on wheels. They are only limited by lack of creativity. Maybe someone in your family has a spot in the yard or driveway. Or reach out to your social circle for leads. Search online for ideas, educate yourself, start dreaming, and get yourself a home.
I know that there are vacant apartments in San Francisco that have been empty for years. Care Association wants to reach out to their owners and encourage altruism that they may offer them for affordable rents. We are building the Care For Us website so that property owners can get acquainted with people looking for housing, and we hope they will make these vacant spaces available to users on the site. But we need to populate the site.
Curry, O., & Dunbar, R. (2013). Sharing a joke: The effects of a similar sense of humor on affiliation and altruism. Evolution and Human Behavior,34(2), 125-129. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2012.11.003
Reuter, M., Frenzel, C., Walter, N., Markett, S., & Montag, C. (2011). Investigating the genetic basis of altruism: The role of the comt val158met polymorphism. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,6(5), 662-668. doi:10.1093/scan/nsq083
Yim, J. (2016). Therapeutic benefits of laughter in mental health: A theoretical review. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine,239(3), 243-9. doi:10.1620/tjem.239.243
A full-time worker earning minimum wage in San Francisco can comfortably afford $780 a month in housing expenses based on the national standard of 30% gross income; housing expenses include rent and utilities. Yet, the city’s housing authority is calling a studio with a rent of $1,190 a month “affordable” for someone who earns only $2,380 a month. Fifty percent of income spent on rent is not affordable.
On July 1, 2018, San Francisco’s minimum wage rose to $15 an hour for all employees. In spite of the increase, a minimum wage worker is still unable to afford the cost to live in San Francisco where a tenant is lucky to find a studio for $1,300. This year, Seattle instituted a minimum wage of $16 for companies with more than 500 employees, such as Amazon. Unlike in San Francisco, a Seattle worker can find a studio for under $900 a month through the rental market. The real estate market in the Bay Area is simply unjust.
The Burden of Cost
San Francisco city authorities are encouraging a cycle of poverty by allowing a high cost burden on its residents. If a worker earns $2,600 a month and pays $1,300 a month in rent (a home at this rate would probably be at least a 45-minute drive from work in the city), little is left for living. If the worker has a car, the below table might be his monthly budget.
Electricity, Water, Gas
Cash left for food and other expenses
Nothing is left for savings in this scenario. Healthcare costs are not included. Also omitted is the cost of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which is $7 a day if a worker drives alone across the bay. This worker could save a few hundred dollars a month by using public transit but then he would lose travel time, not to mention a sense of freedom. Imagine that this worker has a child. Feeding two people well is not easy for less than $300 a month. Forget the additional time and expenses needed to take the child to and from daycare.
No one should pay more than 30%
Reducing rent from $1,300 to $750 frees $550 a month for a livable life. It allows for a healthier diet. It allows the worker to relax and go to the movies or enjoy a dinner out. The worker can put money into a savings account and save for his child’s future. More disposable income supports a stronger economy for local businesses and for the country.
Is San Francisco pressured by the real estate market to offer “low-income” housing at costs too high for its residents? California’s 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act makes matters worse by preventing local governments from mandating affordable units with every luxury project. Instead, the government is forced to subsidize to make up for market rates. Contractors charge a premium for construction fees adding to building costs. Meanwhile, a two-bedroom house in the Castro neighborhood has sat empty for more than a year, its owner and agent waiting for a renter to pay $5,000 a month for it. Multiple households crowd themselves in shared apartments. Others sleep in their vehicles.
The San Francisco Examiner estimated that 142,000 workers in the city were to benefit from the wage hike last July. According to some workers, instead of helping, the raise resulted in cut hours. Some earned less as a result, forcing them to find additional work to pay bills. For a city that offers no real affordable housing units, this is no solution.
Build $750 units
The only solution to the housing crisis is to provide housing units people can actually afford with a single full-time job. This does not necessarily mean repealing Costa-Hawkins. But it does require using innovative strategies. McCormack Baron Salazar is a company based in St. Louis, Missouri, that has been doing just that. Started as a consulting firm, then McCormack Baron & Associates found an opportunity to become a developer of low-income housing by pooling available resources including tax credits, government subsidies, and private funding. With over 22,000 homes built to-date, and over 68% of them for lower-income households, McCormack Baron Salazar proves that building affordable housing is possible and can be profitable. But it will take commitment and cooperation to make it happen in San Francisco.
Be the Change
In spite of the unjust nature of the real estate market and the slowness of building needed housing, property owners can make a difference. Care Association wants to help.
If you own a home with vacant space, contact us by email or phone at 415-890-0011 to find out how you can help a low-income tenant.