The tech industry’s boom throughout the Bay Area has produced an influx of high-income tech professionals moving to San Francisco. The city’s rich cultural, music, and food scenes are interspersed throughout with beer gardens, bicycle cafes, and organic Froyo shops. Our beloved city has something to offer to everyone and remains one of the world’s most desired places to live. But the continuous desire of people to move into the city is not entirely harmless.
One of the rising implications of the tech boom is the overwhelming demand for housing, which drives up the rent and marginalizes people who cannot compete with upper-income individuals. This trend creates a monoculture of residents and leaves the financially less fortunate with little options but to leave the city.
When a longtime resident moves out of a San Francisco apartment that has been rent controlled for years, the landlord has an opportunity to stick a new monthly pricetag on the place. In response to high market demand, many landlords hike up the rent, taking what was once reasonably-priced housing out of many people’s reach.
Even with rent control in place, which keeps housing prices low and protects the working class from spontaneous rent increases, the average rent per household in San Francisco is a staggering $2,400 per month. There is a desperate need for more affordable housing for those many San Francisco residents who cannot keep up with these constantly climbing rent prices. While it could seem unfair to discourage the wealthy from moving into the city, it may be necessary if we want to preserve San Francisco’s diversity.
With people occupying practically every square inch of town, even the once less desirable neighborhoods are being gentrified, forcing out low-income residents. It used to be the case that when one neighborhood got too expensive, people could move to a cheaper one. Now prices are so high in nearly every district of San Francisco that the only option left is to move out the city entirely.
Not only is it morally unsound that the poor are being priced out of a place known for its celebration of diversity; it is also inconsistent with our reputation as one of the most heterogeneous cities in the world. The rent control crisis is not going away until San Francisco begins to enforce fair housing policies. One solution could be to implement a commuter tax for individuals who live in San Francisco but commute outside of the city for work. This tax could be used towards subsidizing local housing to make it feasible for mid- and low-income families to pay their monthly rent.
As individuals who are entering the professional world in the coming years, we are responsible for making sure that the city’s finite space remains diverse, and that vulnerable communities are not lost, even if that means restricting housing eligibility for the wealthy.