The Effects of Recent Policies on Housing Affordability in San Francisco

The Effects of Recent Policies on Housing Affordability in San Francisco
Jeff Bellisario, Micah Weinberg, Camila Mena, Lanwei Yang
Bay Area Council Economic Institute
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Do state and local policies improve housing affordability for households in San Francisco? In a recent report, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute analyzed 20 proposed and enacted policies from the previous five years, measuring the change in the number of households that will pay more than or less than 30 percent of their income on housing costs because of the policy. The researchers used a static model to isolate the effects of each policy to San Francisco. The authors analyzed the selected policies based on three channels, considering how each affected housing affordability: housing supply, access to below-market-rate housing, and income generation through home sharing or accessory dwelling units. Half of the 20 selected policies increased affordability, and the other half worsened affordability. This study aims to educate the public and move policymakers to enact policies that will increase housing affordability in San Francisco.

Key findings

  • State and local housing policies significantly affect affordability, just as housing demand does.
  • Increasing the supply of both market-rate and subsidized housing through large planned housing developments or decreased administrative barriers to development produces the most significant improvements in affordability.
  • Measuring a policy’s effect on affordability by only examining the change in housing supply is insufficient. The type of housing stock and rental and income from rentals must also be considered.