Cheap rent: A thing of the past

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photo by Trenttsd via creative commons

Surfed Craigslist for an apartment lately? Then you don’t need us to tell you that rent in San Francisco is too damn high. But what are the broader implications of this becoming a city where median asking rent is above $3,000?

Here’s an example. Today, District 11 Sup. John Avalos shared a story with the Guardian about his arrival to San Francisco in 1989. He had $1,000 to his name, enough to cover rent and a security deposit. He landed a job that paid just $8 an hour, but that was no big deal, since he split the rent for his $675-per-month, two-bedroom apartment in the Haight with a friend.

Translate those 1989 figures to 2013 dollars, and the dramatic rent increases the city has experienced really come into focus. With inflation factored in, that same two-bedroom apartment would cost $1,253 per month today. Noticed any Craigslist ads for two-bedroom apartments in the Haight going for $1,253 lately? (If so, be careful. It's probably a scam.) Rents for such units hover closer to $4,000 these days.

Avalos joined his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors in highlighting issues of affordability at Tuesday's meeting. “San Francisco needs to do something specifically to measure how people, particularly those on the bottom rung, are getting by in San Francisco," he commented just prior to the vote for board presidency.

District 9 Sup. David Campos echoed this sentiment. "I want a city that works, but I want a city that works for everyone,” Campos said. “We have to work collectively to make sure that happens ... We have great wealth in the city, but many people are being pushed out."