San Francisco Is So Expensive, You Can Make Six Figures and Still Be ‘Low Income’

In neighboring San Mateo County, officials say the housing stock — primarily single-family homes, many on picturesque cul-de-sacs — lags far behind demand. Many residents who have been forced to move farther inland now face grueling commutes to their jobs.

“We’re the epicenter of the affordability crisis we’re seeing in the hotter markets throughout the U.S.,” said Ken Cole, the county’s director of housing.

“What it means on the ground is that teachers, first responders, people who grew up here of average income are being forced out by the high prices,” he said.

He called for building new, higher-density housing along rail lines. Others, including Mr. Walker, say the state should abolish a state law that limits rent control and consider other steps to cool the overheated market.

“The very success of the place undermines the viability of life for at least the lower half, if not the lower two-thirds,” Mr. Walker said. “And those are the people who get forgotten in the narrative of the glamour of tech changing the world.”

Kate Hartley, director of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, said high construction costs and low federal funding had added to the challenges of keeping low- and middle-income people in the city.

“What makes the Bay Area great is its diversity, its creative and innovative economy, and its free spirit,” she said.

“But the harder it is to house our artists, teachers, restaurant workers, health care providers,” she added, “the more we put that great spirit and strong economy at risk.”

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