San Francisco has the least affordable housing in the nation, with just 14 percent of homes accessible to middle-class buyers, said Jed Kolko, chief economist at the real estate website Trulia. The median rent is also the highest in the country, at $3,250 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.
“Affordable housing projects are constructed, and the money set aside for that purpose is used, but the demand is just far greater than what can be supplied,” said Fred Brousseau of the city budget and legislative analyst’s office. Evictions under a provision of state law that allows landlords to evict rent-controlled tenants if they convert a building for sale have more than tripled in the past three years, just as they did during the first tech boom.
To Yelly Brandon, a 36-year-old hairstylist, and her boyfriend, Anthony Rocco, an archivist, the obstacles to finding housing became clear when they spent two months searching for an apartment. At open houses, they said, they were competing with young tech workers, who offered more than the asking price and cash up front.
“People were just throwing money in the air,” Ms. Brandon said.
In the Times, Erica Goode and Claire Cain Miller report about the “backlash by the bay”—how the middle- and working-classes are increasingly being pushed out by tech workers with big bank accounts. Neighborhoods like the Mission District, a once heavily Hispanic working-class neighborhood, has seen a dramatic change. But some of the changes are less about luxury apartment buildings and moneyed residents like Mark Zuckerberg buying homes in the area:
And they grumble about less tangible things: an insensitivity in interactions in stores and on the street, or a seeming disregard for neighborhood traditions. The annual Day of the Dead procession, meant to be solemn, has turned into a rowdy affair that many newcomers seem to view as a kind of Mexican Halloween.
Kevin Starr, professor of history and policy, planning and development at the University of Southern California describes the biggest problem with pushing middle and working class families out of the city: “You can’t have a city of just rich people. A city needs restaurant workers, a city needs schoolteachers, a city needs taxi drivers.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
An Australian family in Canberra has been decorating their house with Christmas lights since early October, and they’ve just been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records to have the most lights on a residential property. According to the NPR story, their display includes “502,165 LED lights that, laid end to end, would stretch for more than 31 miles.”
JP Morgan just finalized a $13 billion settlement with the Justice Department over investigations into toxic mortgage investments that helped start the financial crisis. Some of that money will be going to help homeowners who took out mortgages with JP Morgan, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual—the latter two banks being acquired by JP Morgan in 2008. Our pal Heidi Moore has an explainer about where all the money will be going, and why JP Morgan was able to settle without admitting any wrongdoing, over at The Guardian.
Good news for adult humans I will never understand or relate to: for as little as $1.7 million dollars you can now buy a house on Disney park property. The gated community called Golden Oak is now under development, set to have 450 houses completed in the next couple of years.
There is young Langston Hughes, left behind in Cleveland by his parents, and writing his first poetry alone in the third floor attic. Then there is the listing, which tells us that this attic has wall-to-wall carpeting and is walking distance to a hospital. (What situation would have you walking to a hospital?)
$77 to install a meter when we are renting the damn place? Oh-ho! When I saw this the first time, I filled with a rage reserved only for this specific person, my landlord, my only enemy, who refers to himself always as “owner,” weed-wacks our vegetable garden, comes in our apartment while we are gone, and tries to illegally overcharge us for rent.
I found this post on house sizes by country via Radiolab, and it asks: How much space is enough? That depends of course on how big your family is and what you do (my parents knocked down walls and built additions to their house because they needed space to dance). I live in a small studio apartment, which I think is perfectly at the moment, so I agree with what the author of the post, Lindsay Wilson says here: “In my mind if you have decent ceiling heights, good windows, clever storage and not too much stuff a little space can go a long way.”
Atlantic Cities looks at the metro areas in the U.S. where homes are least affordable for middle class families (or families earning the median income in the area)—San Francisco being the worst, according to an analysis by real estate site Trulia. New York, of course, also makes it near the top of the list, but New York is a city of renters (and I imagine San Francisco is one too). Where is the housing stock most affordable for median earners? Cities in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan make the list, which you can see in full below.
Among his tips for clients: Don’t waste money tearing down a house; the stigma attaches itself to the land, not the building. For example, in 1984 a gunman murdered 21 people at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, a neighborhood in San Diego. The company bulldozed the fast-food restaurant, then donated the land to the city. San Diego tried to sell it but got little interest. Nearly four years after the tragedy, the city sold the land at a deep discount to a community college.
In death, celebrities and ordinary people are equal — their murders lower a property’s value by the same percentage, Bell says.
Nothing matters more — even the horrors that took place — than perception. That’s especially true in the case of Resnick’s mansion, where Bell says no evidence supports stories of ghosts and mob murders.
Randall Bell is a “doom-and-gloom” real estate developer, which means he helps homeowners and landowners figure out how much their property is worth after they become stigmatized for various reasons. He’s been involved with selling JonBenet Ramsey’s house in Colorado, Nicole Brown Simpson’s condo, the mansion where 39 Heaven’s Gate cult members committed suicide, and homes that have shown up on shows like The Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and have the perception of being haunted. The L.A. Times followed Bell as he figured out the property value of a mansion in Las Vegas that was featured in Ghost Adventures and then was subsequently vandalized by visitors and Satan worshippers (estimates were that the value dropped by about a third).
A recent episode of The Colin McEnroe Show discussed the joys and challenges of living with roommates, with guests like Susan Salisbury, the director of residential life at Trinity College, who talks about how she matches college roommates together in residence halls (she looks at the surveys students fill out saying whether or not they’re early or late risers and what their study habits are like, and then matches everyone using pen and paper), The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson, who talks about some of the economic consequences of more millennials rooming together for longer periods of time (instead of buying houses and starting families, which they’re postponing for monetary reasons), and an appearance from two of those dudes from Fortress Astoria (those best friends and roommates who have been living together for nearly two decades). A caller asks something like, “How do you keep the peace when your roommates have a hard time doing things like taking out the trash when it’s their turn on the chore board?” (CHORE BOARD!). The Fortress Astoria dudes respond, “The only agreements we have are to pay the rent, and wash your dishes. Everyone just has to be conscientious of each other.” If only it were that easy.
Yesterday the city council in Richmond, California voted in favor of a plan in which: the city will buy underwater houses from banks using eminent domain and resell them to investors in a way that will let the current residents stay in their homes. It’s pretty complicated and it’s a plan pitched and headed by a private for-profit company but I think it sounds great and I hope it works. Experiments!