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Photo: Flickr/Travis Wise

San Francisco’s Planning Commission has released its biannual Housing Balance Report, as mandated by City law, detailing the progress of San Francisco’s housing goals. The verdict? It’s not pretty.

Prop K, which was passed in 2014, requires that 33 percent of all newly constructed housing must be affordable for low and middle-income households. Currently, that percentage sits at 13.6.

Why? San Francisco has been rapidly losing its affordable housing to demolition, the Ellis Act and Owner Move-In Evictions. In 2016 alone, the City built 6,166 units of affordable housing, but lost an additional 4,182 units. In short, the City lost 67.8 percent of the affordable housing it gained.

The takeaway from all of this is that preserving current tenants and affordable housing units is paramount (and cheaper) than hurriedly building new affordable housing. Of course, continuing to build affordable housing is still vastly important, as a recent research brief by UC Berkeley points out.

Written as a rebuttal against the report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, which claimed that building market rate housing combats gentrification, the brief acknowledges that market rate housing can reduce displacement of low-income households at a larger regional level, but for specific neighborhoods that have been hit hard by gentrification, such as the Mission or West Oakland, it isn’t helpful.

“We can obviously see that there is a mismatch in terms of the housing balance,” Commissioner Myrna Melgar said in an interview with The San Francisco Examiner. “It’s a mismatch based on different parts of the City.”

Another factor worth taking into account is the increasing number of vacant units in the City, which SPUR (The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association) estimates to be around 30,000.

“I walk my neighborhood frequently,” Commissioner Kristin Moore told The San Francisco Examiner. “On the outside they look very nice, but there is nobody home.”

With this in mind, the Board of Supervisors will now consider new inclusionary housing requirements that would expand the amount of affordable housing.

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