Neighbor Hina Shah is associate professor at the Golden Gate University School of Law. She rents in the La Lengua Autonomous Zone, on 29th at Mission — for the moment. Her housing situation has been stressful, and she wrote about that, and some possible solutions, in last Friday’s Chronicle:
The discussion about the housing crisis has focused exclusively on how the burgeoning tech industry is affecting low-income residents. However, middle-class, moderate-income families like mine are also being squeezed out of the city.
My family lives in a non-rent-controlled unit in the Mission-Bernal Heights district. My husband and I moved into our apartment 10 years ago, when we were still dating. Since then, we got married and had two children. When it was time for our daughter to go to elementary school, we chose our neighborhood public school. We occasionally considered buying a place but, with our incomes as nonprofit and public-sector workers, owning seemed like a financial stretch.
In January, however, our commitment to raising our children in the city was severely tested. We were notified that our rent would increase by $600 a month.
So what is to be done? Neighbor Hina proposes:
To ensure economic diversity in our communities, the city must embrace nonmarket solutions, such as:
Increase city-owned land that can be developed into subsidized housing for all income levels. Vienna offers an excellent model for how San Francisco could be a major player in social housing. In Vienna, the city controls 25 percent of the housing stock and indirectly controls another quarter of housing built and owned by limited-profit, private developers. Housing cannot be controlled solely by the private market, as irrational exuberance is once again overvaluing housing and pushing long-term residents out of the city. Here in San Francisco, the city must become a key player by owning and managing housing stock.
San Francisco’s Housing Trust Fund should be used to build affordable housing units, with a mix of diverse price points, limited equity units and rental units.
Induce tech giants such as Google to invest in community land trusts or other funds to help build more affordable housing. Google’s recent gift to fund free Muni passes for youth for two years is inconsequential. The public and the city officials who represent us should demand more from our tech neighbors.
Preserve and expand rent control: Units constructed after 1979 (like mine) are exempt from rent control. The state’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act exempts from rent control single-family homes and condominiums where the tenancy began on or after January 1996. The act also removed vacancy controls, allowing landlords to set new rents when a unit becomes vacant.
Change the Ellis Act to stop speculator evictions of rent-controlled tenants. Preserving and expanding rent control will need full public engagement and the city’s muscle, as it did in 1979 when the city passed emergency legislation to stem the tide of quadrupling rents in the Mission District.
There’s a lot to consider in all this, so discuss in the comments if you’re so inclined.
PHOTO: Telstar Logistics