There Are No Easy Solutions To San Francisco’s Housing Crisis

Today at Disrupt SF, San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu and Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman discussed efforts to make the city more accessible to a larger number of residents. That means more housing, of course, but it also means helping residents who aren’t in the tech industry to see benefits from the boom in business here.

First up was housing, which has been an issue as the influx of new residents in San Francisco has led to a drastic increase in prices. There are no easy solutions to the housing crisis in San Francisco, in part because the crunch is being caused by a lack of housing development in other parts of the region.

Most successful development plans take into account where the jobs are and building housing around them, according to Chiu. But the people taking jobs in the South Bay are generally not able to get housing there and as a result are moving into San Francisco. Chiu said there needs to be a regional solution to the issue.

“We have a lot of cities and towns around San Francisco that have shut down housing development,” Chiu said. “The smartest way to grow in a region is to put housing close to the jobs. The only way to do that is at the state level.”

Chiu is attempting to get 50,000 new housing units built in the city to help meet demand. But there’s a lot of process that slows or even halts development in San Francisco. And even getting more housing doesn’t solve the problem of helping residents who are already here, but unable to take advantage of the tech boom.

“We have a number of neighborhoods where we still have significant unemployment… in these neighborhoods we have thousands of people who have no access to get tech jobs,” Chiu said. He followed up to say that from a diversity standpoint, most tech companies don’t look very much like the cultural makeup of San Francisco.

Stoppelman pointed to efforts from his own company, along with Salesforce and LinkedIn, to find folks from difficult backgrounds and find jobs for them within the tech industry. Still, he said any solution will have to work to improve the educational system and bringing local people into the tech industry earlier on.

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