San Francisco Residents Outraged Over Cost of Providing Tiny Houses For The Homeless

San Francisco Residents Outraged Over Cost of Providing Tiny Houses For The Homeless

San Francisco Residents Outraged Over Cost of Providing Tiny Houses For The Homeless

San Francisco’s well-publicized homelessness crisis is emblematic of the problems facing many of America’s big cities as they struggle to provide affordable housing against the backdrop of high interest rates and low inventory.

This has led the city to employ a variety of methods to tackle the problem, but a recent plan to provide tiny houses for San Francisco’s homeless population has residents furious over the cost.

The units would cost a reported $113,000 each to construct. Considering that the average home in San Francisco costs nearly $1 million the $113,000-per-unit cost for the tiny houses seems in line with San Francisco’s notoriously expensive real estate market. Why is there so much outrage? First, it’s much higher than nearby cities like Oakland and San Jose are paying to build comparable units. Second, the program is taxpayer-funded.

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It also costs an estimated $2.9 million per year to operate the city program that will manage the units, and the tiny homes will be demolished in a few years to make way for a permanent affordable housing complex in San Francisco’s Mission District. Many San Francisco residents question the wisdom of spending millions of dollars to build affordable housing, and then tear it down to replace it with another affordable housing development.

Making matters worse, most of San Francisco’s housed residents are struggling to deal with the city’s notoriously high cost of living. According to, the average residential rental in San Francisco costs $2,800 per month. That is nearly double the national average of $1,514 per month. Adding insult to injury is that $2,800 per month gets you a basic apartment in a basic neighborhood. Luxury dwellings cost upward of $5,000 per month.

Tenants are considered rent-burdened when their monthly rent exceeds 30% of their income. That means San Francisco residents must make about $100,000 per year just to keep their heads above water. Not long ago, a $100,000 per year income was considered a landmark on the way to economic freedom. Now, it’s the minimum entry requirement for many of America’s big cities.


Even though San Francisco’s tech boom has created many millionaires, not all the city’s residents work in that sector. Most schoolteachers, social workers, restaurant employees and regular workers in San Francisco make far less than $100,000 per year. No city can function without people staffing these positions, and most San Franciscans are an unexpected car repair or layoff away from being homeless.

They’re even further behind when it comes to purchasing a home in San Francisco. A 20% down payment on a $1 million house is $200,000 and saving that much money while paying $2,800 per month in rent is hard. With mortgage rates near 7%, the interest on an $800,000 loan is $56,000 per year. Add loan principal, property taxes and insurance to the mix and the monthly note is in the $10,000 range.

While homelessness is an issue that must be addressed, if you’re an average San Francisco resident who has been losing ground economically for years, it’s natural to wonder when the city will spend millions of dollars to help you — San Francisco’s homeless population is far from the only one needing assistance.

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