San Francisco ‘Below Market Rate’ Housing Units Currently Above Market Rate

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With well-priced apartments around San Francisco in what will likely be a near-term decline in the rental market, so-called below-market-rate (BMR) units are tied to other measures, and tenants may find more. best deals in the open market right now.

Affordable housing has been one of the most central and existential issues of San Francisco politics for several decades now, but what constitutes “affordable” is actually a wide range of prices that are tied to the region’s median income. And although the pandemic left an army of local service industry workers in poverty and sent some tech workers fleeing to the hills while working remotely, average incomes in San Francisco have failed. not officially declined. This means that BMR housing prices have not fallen, despite the fact that rental housing in the city has seen an estimated decline of around 27%.

Anyone trying to move to San Francisco right now or just change apartments is better off trying to find a rent-controlled unit they hope to stay in for the long term – and lock in rent during this market downturn – rather. than looking for BMR units through official channels. Because, as KPIX reports, some of those units in new downtown towers that had BMR requirements when built are currently listed at higher rents than in the wider market.

This isn’t how the system is supposed to work, but this is what recent college graduate Christine McDow discovered as she searched for a remote apartment, intending to move to SF this year. from North Carolina.

In one case, as she tells KPIX, she found a furnished T2 that was renting for a lower price than an unfurnished BMR unit.

At the Avalon on King Street in SoMa, KPIX finds that BMR tenants pay $ 2,700 for studios, but market-priced units of the same size in the same building are renting less.

The city responded to a request from the station saying the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) would review the Avalon and contact building owners to find tenants on the city’s affordable housing waiting list. “The city has rent procedures in place that ensure affordable housing complies with the Town Planning Code and other regulations that keep rents below the market rate between 10 and 20 percent below the market.” the health ministry said in a statement. “The DAHLIA system (the city’s affordable housing portal) does not allow a building owner to ask for above-market rents.

The gap between BMR rates and the real market caused many tenants who were paying those stuck rates to look elsewhere for cheaper and better digs. KPIX spoke to Dave Osgood, a resident of the Rincon Tower, who says he has seen many people in the building’s 76 BMR units relocate over the past year, after finding cheaper locations elsewhere in the city. And he estimates that 20 percent of the BMR units there are empty – although that cannot be confirmed.

A review by SFist of the current listings on the city’s DAHLIA portal shows that a few available or recently lottery-awarded BMR studio units that are renting well below the market at any time over the past 20 years, with income limits and prices between $ 900 and $ 1400 a month.

“Places like San Francisco are getting cheaper, but they are by no means affordable,” says Rob Warnock, associate researcher for Apartment List, which released the recent figure that SF rents have fallen 27% since last March. .

But it’s all relative – as SFist has mentioned before, San Francisco has been considered an expensive place to live since the days of the Gold Rush. And when long-time residents here talk about the heyday of cheap rents, they’re mostly referring to a time when the Mission and a few other neighborhoods were more accessible, and things were generally cheaper after the recession of the early years. 1990.

And this moment of relatively cheaper rents can be reviewed with fondness or regret by city dwellers in a year or two, depending on whether or not they take it for many. Because the prices here never stay “low” for long.

Photo: Diane Bentley Raymond / Getty Images


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