Getting Overcrowded and Small in San Francisco Living

If you read Jack Kerouac you get an idea of San Francisco in the early 1950’s, with writer and poetry types living cheek by jowl in small apartments across inexpensive neighborhoods in Frisco as they called it. Now, there are a lot more of us living the dense life here in San Francisco (and nationally). The number of bedrooms available in a home (own or rent) per person in the house has really shrunk. It’s not so much our streets are getting crowded. Our homes are getting crowded. Sociologically, there are significant changes from the way it used to be, with each individual getting their own room.

The SF Planning Department and SF Fire Department note that the Mission, Tenderloin, and Chinatown have as many as 6 or 7 more tenants per unit then designed for. A recent US census report discovered that nationally 14.7 percent of homes owned have more inhabitants than the homes’ rooms can comfortably accommodate. In San Francisco that figure is 22.4 percent. For renters in SF that figure jumps to 33.5 percent, and if they have kids it’s 54.9 percent.

One of the results of this is a shift to living small. Particularly when taking into account that the average SF household brings in a median income of $78,000, whereas renters bring in less than $60,000. And there are between 380,000 and 391,000 housing units in the city, and virtually all of them are lived in.