Innovative Approaches to Solving the Housing Crisis


Friday, August 12, 2016


9:00 am – 12:30 p.m.


Lena Robinson
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

The shortage of housing in California is a crisis that is negatively impacting residents at all income levels. Regardless of income, 48% of owners and 57% of renters in California are cost burdened paying well above the desired 30% of income for housing. The numbers are even more alarming for low-income households. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual report, Out of Reach, ranks California as the third most expensive rental market in the country. Additionally, the five most expensive rental counties are all located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The high cost of housing is aggravated by the lack of supply. According to a report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, housing production is far below the estimated housing units needed to meet the demand, especially in strong employment markets. Traditional approaches for adding units such as large multifamily buildings and subdivisions are the solutions deemed most efficient and effective because of their economies of scale. But this scale has its own drawbacks such as a hefty price tag, extensive pre-development lead time, and most importantly the willingness of a developer to assume the risk. Large scale development cannot be the only solution when we need more housing now.

This forum explored some of the experimental and smaller scale activities that hold the promise of bringing housing to market sooner. Innovations such as vacant property recapture, pre-fab construction, small sites acquisition and accessory dwelling units are solutions that are poised for immediate adoption. Could these innovations be accomplished on a bigger scale and what would it take? How can we help organizations build capacity to execute these ideas more productively?

Agenda (pdf, 43 kb)

The Critical Role for Cities in Affordable Housing Preservation and Development (pdf, 728 kb)
Supervisor Jane Kim, San Francisco Board of Supervisor

Case Study: San Francisco Small Sites Acquisition Fund (pdf, 358 kb)
Rick Lewis and Tracy Parent, Bay Area Consortium of Community Land Trusts

Reclaiming Underutilized Assets for Rental and Homeownership (pdf, 889 kb)
Moderator: Zachary Murray, Grounded Solutions
Jennifer Duffy, Hello Housing
Jim Becker, Richmond Community Foundation (Richmond Housing Renovation)
Smitha Seshadri, Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco

Shared Housing and Accessory Dwelling Units (pdf, 992 kb)
Moderator: Steve King, Oakland Community Land Trust
Darin Lounds, Housing Consortium of the East Bay
Jay Standish, OpenDoor Coliving
Matt Regan, Bay Area Council

Rapid Construction (pdf, 5 mb)
Patrick Kennedy, Panoramic Interests