Combatting Gentrification in The City by the Bay


Coming in as the seventh most expensive city in which to buy a home, according to Coldwell Banker’s Real Estate Home Listing Report, San Francisco—where the average cost of a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house is $1,672,100 and the median household income is $78,378—is home to a housing market that has unabashedly driven out long-time residents and businesses with its skyrocketing property prices.

The inability of residents to remain in their homes, and entrepreneurs to maintain their businesses can be seen as a side effect of the booming housing market, but it is entirely unfair to people who don’t earn the kind of money to continue living in the city.

In an attempt to combat this vicious cycle, San Francisco city officials focused on assisting low-income residents secure preferences when applying for the new Willie B. Kennedy senior housing complex. This week the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it will allow an “anti-displacement” preference for San Francisco residents currently residing in neighborhoods experiencing swift gentrification.

Through this ruling, 40 percent of the new 98-unit development will be set aside for seniors in the Western Addition, Bayview, Russian Hill, Mission and South of Market neighborhoods.

“This is important progress in our efforts to halt the displacement of residents at greatest risk of being forced out of the city they know and love,” stated Mayor Edwin Lee. “This will thwart the out-migration of African-American and Latino communities who have been deeply impacted by the challenging housing market.”

Like all successes, this one has two sides. First, it will prove a great help to the residents that are chosen to live in the complex, allowing them to remain in their city. On the other hand, most of the residents being priced out of these neighborhoods won’t be chosen as part of the 40 percent to live in the new 98-unit complex, and they will be forced to figure out their own solution to gentrification—likely a move out of the city.

It is necessary that cities experiencing a rapid upsurge in home prices across the U.S. make it a priority to help keep long-term residents from being priced out of their own homes by providing alternative solutions. This is not a simple task.

This week, San Francisco experienced a victory in this space.

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