From Supervisor Dean Preston:
Vacant homes in San Francisco have skyrocketed from approximately 40,000 in 2019 to more than 60,000 in 2021, a 52 percent increase in just two years, according to a report released today by the City’s Budget and Legislative Analyst. An estimated 15% of all homes in San Francisco are empty, by far the highest rate among major cities in the country, the report found.
“In a city where the cost of housing is out of reach for most working people, and with thousands of homeless people living on our streets, it is immoral and inhumane to have tens of thousands of homes sitting empty,” said Supervisor Preston. “The dramatic increase in just two years shows the dire need for policy intervention to turn these empty units into places where people can live.”
In addition to having the highest overall residential vacancy rate of comparable U.S. cities, San Francisco also has the highest share of units that are vacant for seasonal, recreational or occasional use – more than 10,000 homes – a category that includes vacation homes and pied-a-terres, according to the report.
Compared to a January 2022 BLA report that analyzed 2019 data, the updated report published today found the single largest increase in units that are “For Rent” but remain vacant, a staggering 142% increase in just two years.
“This data tells us that landlords are holding out on renting their units, waiting for a market rebound so they can charge more in rent,” Preston said. “We need to incentivize them to get their units back on the market and provide housing to San Franciscans in need.”
The report noted policy interventions that could help reduce the number of vacant units in San Francisco, and that “[c]hief among those was a tax on vacant units as had been adopted in Vancouver, British Columbia and Washington, D.C.”
This November, San Francisco voters will decide whether to adopt an Empty Homes Tax. The proposed law will tax owners of buildings of three units or more, where a residential unit has been vacant for more than six months in a given year. The tax rate is higher for larger units, and it increases the longer a home is kept vacant.
The city’s latest point-in-time count shows 4,397 unsheltered homeless people living on the streets. The data presented today shows 61,473 empty homes in San Francisco. “It is devastating to realize that for every person sleeping on the streets tonight, there are 14 vacant homes in our City,” Preston said.
The BLA report can be accessed here: tinyurl.com/ResVacancyUpdateOct22
Categories: Press Release