Descriptive Title: Proportion of SF housing stock that is deed restricted, public, inclusionary or rent-controlled

Geographic Unit of Analysis: Census tract

Proportion of San Francisco housing stock that is affordable* or rent controlled** (2010) (2010)
NeighborhoodTotal Housing UnitsAffordable housing units% Affordable% Rent ControlRent Control MOE
Bayview/Hunter's Point 10,835 3,051 28% 80% 11%
Bernal Heights 10,518 526 5% 92% 5%
Castro/Upper Market 11,724 254 2% 96% 5%
Chinatown 5,332 434 8% 94% 5%
Excelsior 10,873 8 0% 93% 11%
Financial District/South Beach 5,528 222 4% 88% 12%
Glen Park
Golden Gate Park NA NA NA NA NA
Haight Ashbury 10,925 166 2% 94% 5%
Hayes Valley
Inner Richmond 15,797 237 2% 92% 5%
Inner Sunset 12,089 0 0% 91% 6%
Lakeshore 7,842 0 0% 87% 8%
Lincoln Park
Lone Mountain/USF
Marina 13,913 5 0% 93% 5%
McLaren Park
Mission 23,687 1,410 6% 88% 3%
Mission Bay
Nob Hill 14,012 320 2% 94% 4%
Noe Valley 10,373 111 1% 95% 7%
North Beach 7,709 341 4% 86% 5%
Outer Mission 8,851 72 1% 89% 9%
Outer Richmond 16,490 164 1% 89% 5%
Pacific Heights 12,407 144 1% 94% 4%
Potrero Hill 6,404 674 11% 71% 11%
Presidio 1,082 0 0% 97% 16%
Presidio Heights 4,105 3 0% 95% 8%
Russian Hill 11,077 206 0% 94% 7%
San Francisco 376,904 23,214 6% 86% 1%
Seacliff 1,046 0 0% *** ***
South of Market 19,142 4,396 23% 35% 5%
Treasure Island 786 0 0% 89% 19%
Twin Peaks 3,527 109 3% 87% 13%
Visitacion Valley 6,762 1,041 15% 79% 15%
West of Twin Peaks 8,256 2 0% 85% 17%
Western Addition 29,403 3,817 13% 79% 3%

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

Below market rate housing provides housing opportunities for a variety of income levels. High housing costs relative to the income of an individual or household result in one or more outcomes with adverse health consequences: spending a high proportion of income on housing, sharing housing with other individuals or families, accepting lower-cost substandard housing, moving to where housing costs are lower, or becoming homeless. Spending a high proportion of income on rent or a mortgage means fewer resources for food, heating, transportation, health care, and child care. Sharing housing can mean crowded conditions, with risks for infectious disease, noise, and fires. Lower cost housing is often substandard with exposure to waste and sewage, physical hazards, mold spores, poorly maintained paint, cockroach antigens, old carpeting, inadequate heating and ventilation, exposed heating sources and wiring, and broken windows. Moving away can result in the loss of job, difficult school transitions, and the loss of health protective social networks. For additional information on the connections between housing and health, visit: The Case for Housing Impacts Assessment by SFDPH, Program on Health Equity and Sustainability.a

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

Affordable housing can be achieved through a number of programs, agencies and policies in San Francisco. There is no single definition for affordable housing. Deed restrictions, construction and/or management by a public agency, rent control, and inclusionary requirements reflect some of the ways that affordable housing is preserved and constructed in San Francisco. These mechanisms are described in the Methods section. For the purposes of this analysis, rent control was examined separately and public housing, deed restrictions, community land trusts, and inclusionary housing (often referred to a Below Market Rate) were combined as “affordable.” 

In 2010 there were roughly 23,000 units of affordable housing. The majority of this housing was found in the South of Market, Western Addition, Downtown/Civic Center, and Bayview neighborhoods. The neighborhoods with the highest percentages of housing falling into the affordable category are Mission Bay, Bayview, South of Market, Visitacion Valley, and Downtown/Civic Center. Thirteen neighborhoods had less than one percent of their housing stock falling into the affordable category. In the majority of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, a high percentage of rental housing falls under rent control law. The neighborhoods with the lowest number of rental units being subject to rent control are Mission Bay (the number of rent controlled units was too low to provide a statistical estimate), South of Market, Crocker Amazon, Potrero Hill, Visitacion Valley, and Western Addition. In the case of Mission Bay, South of Market, and Potrero Hill, these neighborhoods were historically industrial and experienced relatively recent residential development. Visitacion Valley and Crocker Amazon are neighborhoods dominated by primarily single family homes and thus, multifamily rental housing was likely built more recently. Western Addition experienced significant redevelopment during the mid/later-half of the 20th century. 


The housing that was considered as “affordable” fell into the following categories and was collected from the noted agencies. The number of units that fell into these categories for each census tract and neighborhood was summed and was divided by the total number of housing units from the 2010 Census.

Public housing is rental housing affordable to those who meet income eligibility levels designated as very low and low income in relation to the area median income. Rent is set at 30% of a household's annual income. Public housing is managed by the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) who receives federal funding through the federal Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD). SFHA also administers approximately 21,000 Section 8 vouchers. These vouchers allow households to rent at any property that accepts the conditions of the Section 8 voucher program without being limited to the public housing managed by the SFHA. For more information, visit the SFHA website:

 Redevelopment Agency Affordable Housing was developed by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA) through tax increment financing in areas designated for revitalization by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Areas are designated as Redevelopment Agency areas when conditions are considered physically or economically blighted. As part of revitalization, SFRA provided public financing and guides private investment to develop below market rate housing at a variety of affordability levels that go as high as 120% of area median income. Typically, the developer has a long-term lease agreement (55 years for rental and 45 years for ownership property) with land use restrictions within the deed to preserve affordability, including the maintenance of affordable rents and limited equity resale. After the lease has been completed, the restrictions are lifted and housing can return to market rate. SFRA has the right of first refusal before any resale of below market rate homes. Therefore, SFRA makes an effort to use various types of financing methods to maintain the affordability of units (SFRA employee, personal communication August 22, 2007). In February of 2012, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (RA), along with 400 other RAs in California, was dissolved. Former Agency staff has been working closely with the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to undertake as orderly a transition as possible that preserves as many projects and programs as possible.

Another form of affordable housing is community land trusts (CLT), of which one exists in San Francisco's Chinatown District. In a CLT, the land under the building is owned by a non-profit community land trust agency (e.g., The San Francisco Community Land Trust), and the units are owned by individuals or households. Homeowners then become members of the CLT and make collective decisions on their property. For more information on community land trusts, visit:

The only form of below market rate housing production that does not use any public subsidies is inclusionary housing. Inclusionary zoning requires that developers who build more than a predetermined number of units on one property provide a percentage of those units at below market rate. Local San Francisco Inclusionary zoning Law (IZ) was first adopted in 2002 and recently amended in August of 2006 to increase affordability levels; increase the percentage of affordable units required; and include strict requirements for the location of the units. This law is applicable to all new residential developments and is implemented by the San Francisco Planning Department. For more information on San Francisco's inclusionary zoning policy, visit:


Data on the number of rent controlled units was obtained from the American Community Survey (ACS), but dividing the number of rental units built before 1980 by the total number of rental units. These figures are an overestimate of the exact number of units under rent control as the data includes all units built in San Francisco before 1980 and do not account for exemptions. For example, single family homes/condos where tenants moved in after 1996, or SRO units where tenants remain less than 28 consecutive days are exemptions to the rent stabilization ordinance and yet are included in our figures. Units built after June 1979 are exempt from rent control; however units built between June and December of 1979 are included in this data because the data did not allow for more refined separation.

The ACS is a sample survey, and thus, data are estimates rather than counts. Estimates have accompanying margins of error that indicate the span of values that the true value could fall within.  Margins of error should be subtracted from and added to the estimate to determine the range of possible values. If the margin of error is too big relative to the value, data are not shown because they are statistically unstable.  A coefficient of variation of 30% was used to determine statistical instability.

Rent control is the only mechanism to limit rent increases on private residential properties. San Francisco's Rent Stabilization and Arbitration ordinance (Chapter 37) provides rent control for nearly all housing constructed before June 1979. In general, rent on such units can only be increased by a percentage set annually by the San Francisco Rent Board in accordance with inflation. When lease-holding tenants move out of a rent controlled unit, the unit can once again be rented at market rate to a new tenant, who once again will be protected from rent increases through the rent stabilization ordinance. For more information, see the San Francisco Rent Ordinance: or visit the San Francisco Tenants Union:


Rent control estimates include all rental properties built before 1980. However, because the rent control ordinance only covers properties built before June 1979 and because it does not cover single family homes/condos where tenants moved in after 1996, or SRO units where tenants remain less than 28 consecutive days, this data is likely an over-estimate. 

Data Source

Raw data on inclusionary units is from the San Francisco Planning Department; public housing is from the San Francisco Housing Authority; community land trust properties are from the San Francisco Community Land Trust; and deed restricted for affordability is from the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (Summer 2011).

The total number of housing units was gathered from the 2010 US Census.

Total rental units and rental units built before 1980 were gathered from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey.

Map data is presented at the level of the 2010 census tract. The map also includes planning neighborhood names, in the vicinity of their corresponding census tracts.

Detailed information regarding census data, geographic units of analysis, their definitions, and their boundaries can be found at the following links:

Interactive boundaries map

  1. SFDPH. The Case for Housing Impacts Assessment: The Humean Health and Social Impacts of Inadequate Housing and their Consideration in CEQA Policy and Practice. May 2004. Accesible at: