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San Francisco Could Outsource its Affordable Housing

San Francisco has two problems: lack of affordability and lack of space. To alleviate this problem, Oakland is now offering to allow S.F. residents who qualify for affordable housing to move across the Bay.
March 26, 2015, 10am PDT | Josh Stephens | @jrstephens310
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Oakland skyline and San Francisco Bay
Jesse Richmond

The Giants and the A's may forever be at each other's throats, but there's a chance that low-income residents in the Bay Area may benefit from collaboration between the two cities. With San Francisco's housing pressures reaching crisis levels, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has proposed that residents who qualify for low-income housing—housing that is subsidized or otherwise set aside for low-income residents—can move across the Bay and qualify for the same benefits in existing or future affordable units in Oakland. 

Proponents see it as a regional solution to a regional problem. 

“[N]o one city can address the regional housing crisis by itself,” the mayor's chief of staff told the San Francisco Chronicle. “San Francisco and Oakland can’t solve these problems on their own because jobs, transportation and housing are all components that people think about when deciding on a place to live.”

The idea may mesh nicely with the Bay Area's Sustainable Communities Strategy, which, among many other provisions, calls for more housing in center cities and a better jobs-housing balance so that residents do not have to move to the urban fringe in order to find affordable housing. San Francisco has embraced a plan to built 30,000 units in the next five years, with one-third of them affordable. By the city's standards, a for-sale unit around $500,000 technically qualifies as affordable in the city's heated real estate market. 

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Published on Thursday, February 19, 2015 in San Francisco Chronicle
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