Why Housing

We have a housing crisis

This probably isn’t news to you, but it’s even worse than you think.

Bay Area Market Reports
Bay Area Market Reports

Who gets to have a home?

With not enough homes for everyone who wants to live here, who gets the homes? Those who are able to afford the highest rents in the world. It’s like a game of cruel musical chairs: someone is going to be left out in the cold, and it’s going to be the one with the least money.

US Census
U.S. Department of State Refugee Processing Center
US Census: American Community Survey
San Francisco City Controller

Those with homes also pay the costs

For those who are lucky enough to secure a home here, life is severely impacted by our housing crisis.

California Legislative Analyst’s Office, Bay Area Market Reports
Opportunity Insights
The Mercury News

Housing is an environmental issue

As high home prices and supply constraints force us to sprawl outward, we reduce open spaces, lengthening commutes, and exacerbating climate change. Our densest cities emit 70% less carbon per capita than the national average, and suburbs are particularly bad emitters. San Francisco’s urban core has a carbon footprint of around 25-30 metric tons per household, about half that of Bay Area suburbs like Menlo Park (52, the national average), Mill Valley (54), or Lafayette (61). The difference comes down to transportation, which accounts for 46% of California’s carbon emissions, and housing—the average single-family home uses 88% more electricity than the average apartment in a 5 unit building. If we want to reduce carbon emissions, mandates for rooftop solar panels on new houses aren’t going to cut it. The California Air Resources Board finds that we cannot achieve the necessary greenhouse gas emissions reductions “without significant changes to how communities and transportation systems are planned, funded and built.” But urban densification alone could contribute half of the necessary carbon emission reductions for the whole country.

UC Berkeley CoolClimate Network

A matter of political will

So that’s the crisis. We have the highest housing costs in the world due to strong demand and a huge, and growing, supply deficit. We don’t have enough homes for everyone who wants to live here, so we have to choose who doesn’t get one: long-term residents, immigrants & refugees, families & children, those currently homeless or at risk of becoming so. Those who do have a home are burdened by the costs, with many pushed into poverty. They experience deep wealth and racial inequities. They face significant quality of life compromises, including the worst commutes in the country. And our sprawl and commuting does far more to exacerbate climate change than we can offset with any marginal improvements made by our urban households.



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Michael Siliski

Michael Siliski

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