Descriptive Title: Market rate rent from listings and median household income

Geographic Unit of Analysis: Neighborhood

Market rent affordability (2012)
NeighborhoodNumber of Listings (last 6mo. Of 2012)Median Listing PriceFair Market Rent (Craigslist FMR)Annual Income needed to afford 2 BR Craigslist FMRFull-time Jobs at minimum wage needed to afford 2 BR FMRNeighborhood Median IncomeMargin of ErrorNeighborhood Affordability Gap
Bayview/Hunter's Point 202 $2,650 $2,465 $98,608 4.6 $48,517 $16,680 -$50,000
Bernal Heights 204 $2,800 $2,650 $106,000 5.0 $87,013 $23,220 -$19,000
Castro/Upper Market 303 $3,500 $3,295 $131,800 6.2 $109,054 $24,630 -$23,000
Chinatown 66 $3,500 $3,200 $128,000 6.0 $19,889 $8,240 -$110,000
Excelsior 169 $1,900 $1,800 $72,000 3.4 $71,902 $19,481 -$98
Financial District/South Beach 485 $4,505 $4,330 $173,200 8.1 $29,621 $35,974 -$140,000
Glen Park
Golden Gate Park NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
Haight Ashbury 327 $3,250 $2,995 $119,800 5.6 $91,586 $25,857 -$28,000
Hayes Valley
Inner Richmond 460 $2,550 $2,400 $96,000 4.5 $72,350 $15,439 -$24,000
Inner Sunset 327 $2,500 $2,400 $96,000 4.5 $91,247 $21,013 -$4,800
Lakeshore 584 $2,550 $2,483 $99,304 4.7 $60,909 $22,425 -$38,000
Lincoln Park
Lone Mountain/USF
Marina 403 $3,950 $3,700 $148,000 6.9 $104,539 $24,095 -$43,000
McLaren Park
Mission 432 $3,095 $2,920 $116,800 5.5 $65,188 $16,103 -$52,000
Mission Bay
Nob Hill 408 $3,650 $3,300 $132,000 6.2 $62,990 $16,181 -$69,000
Noe Valley 352 $3,200 $3,000 $120,000 5.6 $110,114 $26,206 -$9,900
North Beach 244 $3,700 $3,400 $136,000 6.4 $69,913 $26,237 -$66,000
Outer Mission 195 $2,300 $2,150 $86,000 4.0 $88,278 $26,349 $2,300
Outer Richmond 431 $2,400 $2,250 $90,000 4.2 $76,669 $17,615 -$13,000
Pacific Heights 552 $4,195 $3,994 $159,776 7.5 $116,135 $29,212 -$44,000
Potrero Hill 263 $3,500 $3,286 $131,440 6.2 $113,927 $41,728 -$18,000
Presidio 88 $3,125 $2,509 $100,360 4.7 $116,124 $114,883 $16,000
Presidio Heights 114 $3,250 $2,996 $119,840 5.6 $97,397 $43,720 -$22,000
Russian Hill 549 $3,899 $3,696 $147,832 6.9 $100,507 $35,804 -$47,000
San Francisco 11878 $3,300 $2,981 $119,240 5.6 $72,947 $1,028 -$46,293
Seacliff 26 $2,573 $2,499 $99,960 4.7 $166,000 $25,527 $66,000
South of Market 1319 $4,049 $3,950 $158,000 7.4 $67,159 $28,537 -$91,000
Treasure Island 3 $1,833 $1,742 $69,696 3.3 $35,694 $55,369 -$34,000
Twin Peaks 133 $2,795 $2,695 $107,800 5.1 $91,933 $35,969 -$16,000
Visitacion Valley 55 $1,950 $1,800 $72,000 3.4 $42,598 $21,951 -$29,000
West of Twin Peaks 233 $3,290 $3,147 $125,880 5.9 $122,809 $35,100 -$3,100
Western Addition 726 $3,297 $3,150 $126,000 5.9 $54,407 $14,689 -$72,000

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

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, living in overcrowded housing conditions, 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 in crowded conditions can increase 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 lead paint, cockroach antigens, old carpeting, inadequate heating and ventilation, exposed heating sources and wiring, and broken windows.

On a neighborhood level, rising fair market rent (FMR) in a low-income neighborhood may signal gentrification, which can have both negative and positive impacts on a community. For example, gentrification in the early stages can lead to greater economic and racial/ethnic integration. Higher income residents can increase the consumer power of the community and bring in much needed businesses such as grocery stores and banks. However, as gentrification continues, the original residents, particularly renters, may have limited opportunity to enjoy the benefits of increased social and economic activity in the area, as greater competition for housing in their neighborhood creates market incentive to displace them in favor of those with a greater ability to pay. Over the long term, as lower income households are forced to move into lower income neighborhoods or out of the city, gentrification can further segregate communities and create entire shifts in the demographics.

The health of displaced households becomes vulnerable due to the stress of losing social relationships within a community, the difficulties associated with finding affordable new housing, and time, energy and money needed to relocate. Moving can result in the loss of employment, difficult school transitions, increased transportation costs and the loss of health protective social networks.a

Residential stability in childhood has shown to have positive effects on health into midlife.b Residential stability promotes community and is correlated with a greater sense of personal well-being in low income communities.c Older residents of more stable neighborhoods are more likely to survive a heart attack.d  In contrast, women who move are more likely to smoke and make more frequent trips to the doctor.e Frequent moves are especially detrimental to children, and have been linked to abuse, neglect, household dysfunction and increased likelihood of smoking and suicide once children reach adulthood.f Frequent family relocation is associated with children repeating grades, school suspensions and emotional and behavioral problems,as well as teen pregnancy and higher rates of illicit drug use.h Childhood residential instability has also been found to predict lifetime risk of depression.i

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

The San Francisco Metropolitan Area (San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties) has the highest fair market rent (FMR) rent in California according to a 2012 nationwide housing affordability analysis. Using HUD data, FMR was estimated to be $1,905 per month for a two-bedroom.j Using Craigslist listings for apartments in San Francisco posted during the second half of 2012, we estimated FMR for a two-bedroom at $2,981.

Rents in San Francisco increased dramatically in 2012, possibly due to increased housing demand.k The recent foreclosure crisis hit lower income San Francisco neighborhoods the hardest and sent more homeowners and would-be homeowners back to renting.l  At the same time, the rebounding local economy has brought an influx of new, higher income residents.

Minimum wage in San Francisco was $10.24 per hour in 2012. The least affordable neighborhoods are clustered around the downtown. A minimum wage worker would need to work more than six full-time minimum wage jobs to afford the median two bedroom rental price in the Financial District, Mission Bay, Pacific Heights, South of Market Russian Hill, Marina, or Nob Hill. The most affordable neighborhoods are Excelsior, Visitacion Valley and Crocker Amazon along the Southeastern edge of the city, and Outer Sunset and Parkside on the Western edge. There is no neighborhood in San Francisco that a household of 1 to 2 minimum wage workers can afford market rent on a two bedroom apartment working a standard 40 hour work week.

The neighborhood affordability gap in the table shows that there are significant gaps between the median household income of existing neighborhood residents and the household income needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment listed on Craigslist in the second half of 2012. The gap is greatest downtown, where new housing is being developed in and around areas where historically most of the residents are very low income and living in marginal housing or Single Room Occupancy Hotels (SROs), The gap is the least in the Excelsior neighborhood. There is no gap in Seacliff, which has the highest median income and the fewest advertised rental units citywide.

The distribution of listing prices varied from neighborhood to neighborhood; in some neighborhoods the distribution was bimodal, meaning that the rents were clustered around two peaks. For example in Bayview the distribution of listing prices has a local maximum at just under $2,500, and another near $4,000 per month. Within Bayview, the higher listing prices were almost exclusively in redeveloped neighborhoods near Candlestick Park and Mission Bay. 


HUD defines Fair Market Rent (FMR) as the dollar amount below which 40% of the standard-quality rental housing units are rented. For this analysis, a sample of 92,411 Craigslist rental listings from the second half of 2012 was geocoded and aggregated by neighborhood. From this sample, listing prices for two-bedroom apartments were identified for 11,878 unique locations within San Francisco. FMR was calculated for each neighborhood according to the 40th percentile of listing prices. One neighborhood, Treasure Island, was excluded from the analysis because there were very few listings during the sample period (n = 3).

The number of full-time minimum-wage jobs necessary to afford a two-bedroom apartment in each neighborhood was calculated based on the methodology published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).m In keeping with NLIHC’s methodology, this analysis assumes that rent is 30% of the monthly household budget, and that a full-time minimum wage worker works 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.

The neighborhood affordability gap is calculated by subtracting the neighborhood median income, calculated from American Community Survey (ACS) data, from the income required to afford a two-bedroom apartment at current fair market rent (FMR).


  • There was a large range in the number of two bedroom apartments advertised per neighborhood during the sample period. The sample sizes ranged from a high of 1,319 listings in South of Market to a low of 26 listings in Seacliff.
  • Listings on Craigslist may be inherently biased toward certain demographics and may not be representative of all sectors of the rental market in San Francisco. For example, in some neighborhoods, particularly those with high immigrant populations, occupants of rental housing may be negotiating rental agreements through community or personal networks.
  • The archive of Craigslist listings on which this analysis is based was stripped of dates or other identifying information apart from location, number of bedrooms, and price. Thus precise start and end dates for the data sample are not available.
  • Where there were multiple listings for the same location at the same price, these were assumed to be re-listings for the same unit, and thus were eliminated from the sample. However it is possible that some of these may represent multiple units at the same location. This is particularly likely in Lakeshore, where there were 3,621 listings for two bedroom apartments, but only 56 unique locations. The sample size for unique locations and prices was 584.
  • The analysis of fair market rate depends on the assumption that the data is distributed normally. The distribution of rental prices for most neighborhoods was skewed by a few outliers at the very high range of rental prices. See [figure 1] for a visualization of the distributions of listing prices by neighborhood.

Data Source

American Community Survey (ACS), 5-year Estimates, 2007-2011.

Craigslist listings provided by Padmapper,, on 12 December 2012.

Minimum Wage in San Francisco: Minimum Wage Ordinance. City & County of San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement. Accessed online: Last accessed on 23 January 2013.

Map and table data are presented by planning neighborhood. Planning neighborhoods are larger geographic areas than census tracts. For income estimates based on ACS data, SFDPH chose to use the San Francisco Planning Department's census tract neighborhood assignments to calculate neighborhood values. This assignment method relies on a 'centroids within' methodology to convert census tracts to geographic mean center points. Census tracts are assigned to planning neighborhoods based on the spatial location of those geographic mean center points and neighborhood totals are calculated for the table. In a few case, certain census tracts were redesignated to different neighborhoods based on knowledge of the population dispersion in the tract.

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:

  2. Bures RM. Childhood residential stability and health at midlife. American Journal of Public Health 2003; 93: 1144-8.

  3. Schulz A, Zenk SN, Israel BA, Mentz G, Stokes C, Galea S. Do neighborhood economic characteristics, racial composition and residential stability predict perceptions of stress associated with the physical and social environment? Findings from a multilevel analysis in Detroit. Journal of Urban Health. 2008; 85(5): 642-661.

  4. Chaix B, Rosvall M, Merlo J. Neighborhood Socioeconomic Deprivation and Residential Instability: Effects on Incidence of Ischemic Heart Disease and Survival After Myocardial Infarction. Epidemiology. 2007; 18(1): 104-111.

  5. Larson A, Bell M, Young AF. Clarifying the relationships between health and residential mobility. Social Science & Medicine. 2004; 59(10):2149-2160.

  6. Dong M. Childhood residential mobility and multiple health risks during adolescence and adulthood. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 2005; 159: 11-4-1110.

  7. Cooper, Merrill. Housing Affordability: A Children's Issue. Canadian Policy Research Networks Discussion Paper. Ottawa, 2001.

  8. Jelleyman, T and N Spencer. Residential mobility in childhood and health outcomes: a systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. 2008; 62:584-592.

  9. Gilman SE, Kawachi I, Fizmaurice GM, Buka L. Socio-economic status, family disruption and residential stability in childhood: relation to onset, recurrence and remission of major depression. Psychological Medicine. 2003; 33: 1341-55.

  10. Bravve E, Bolton M, Couch L, Crowley S. Out of Reach 2012: America’s Forgotten Housing Crisis. March 2012. Available at, last accessed 23 January 2013.

  11. Said, Carolyn. Rents rise in S.F., Oakland, San Jose. 18 October 2012. Available at , last accessed 22 January 2013.

  12. Said, Carolyn. Foreclosures up in San Francisco. San Francisco Chronicle. 30 January 2011. Available at , last accessed 22 January 2013.

  13. Ibid