Amid growing inequality and wages that have not kept pace with rising costs, many residents of the San Francisco Bay Area have struggled to afford housing, particularly in places that enable economic opportunity. In this report, we examine how housing unaffordability in the Bay Area prior to the COVID-19 crisis resulted in residential instability for a large proportion of Bay Area residents. We analyze individual-level data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax Data for over 200,000 Bay Area residents each year from 2002 to 2018 and look at different levels and stages of neighborhood gentrification and residents’ socioeconomic status (SES).
Many residents experienced residential instability, including moves, complex tradeoffs, and constrained choices in housing. These patterns held for all except high-SES residents regardless of whether their neighborhoods were gentrifying. Our findings point to the need for more proactive policies to address lower-SES residents’ constraints as they struggle to remain in the Bay Area, particularly as the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic unfold.
Hwang, Jackelyn and Bina P. Shrimali. 2021. “Constrained Choices: Gentrification, Housing Affordability, and Residential Instability in the San Francisco Bay Area.” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Community Development Research Brief 2021-2. doi: 10.24148/cdrb2021-02