Markus Spiering / EyeEm

Katherine Flynn for AIA ARCHITECT reports that San Francisco is adding more jobs faster than it is adding housing by a factor of eight. Median house prices have risen $205,000 in the last seven months. Rents are up 43% over the last decade. Where will it end?

San Francisco’s affordable housing crisis peaked between 2007 and 2014, a period of huge demand and low supply. During that time, Bay Area municipalities issued building permits for only half the number of housing units needed to accommodate its rapidly growing workforce. Currently there is one available unit of housing for every 10 available jobs in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. But area activists, advocates, and architects hope to change that ratio through new infill strategies, one existing land parcel at a time.

Demand for housing is only going to continue to trend upward. No one—including current residents, employers, urbanists, and housing advocates—is questioning the fact that the area needs more housing, both market-rate and subsidized affordable units. Higher-density housing types—i.e., multifamily apartments—that blend in with single-family standalone homes such as the iconic Painted Ladies adjacent to Mission Dolores Park are seen as the “missing middle” that could relieve some of the pressure. However, since more than a third of the city of San Francisco is zoned for single-family use, filling in those gaps is currently impossible in many places. Homeowners are often wary of new construction, and they can be vocal about their concerns through California’s extensive and circuitous permit-review process, which is so arduous that sometimes buildings are already outdated by the time construction is finished.

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