For students at USF, the housing crisis in San Francisco is not a new topic. According to U.S. News and World Report, 35 percent of USF students live in on-campus housing while the large majority (65 percent) of students live in off-campus housing. The undergraduate population at USF has significantly increased in the last several years, meaning more and more students are looking for housing in an increasingly gentrified city. We know there have been plans proposed for a new dorm building where the ROTC building currently is, but that does not appear to be in the immediate future.
The housing shortage in San Francisco has been developing since the 1990s and has subsequently resulted in the city having the highest median rent of any city in the country. According to apartment search engine Apartment List, the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $4800, a 1.2 percent increase from the year before. As median rent steadily continues to increase, more people are being displaced from the city who can no longer afford to live here.
As students, looking for off-campus housing poses its own set of restrictions and difficulties. Multiple members of our staff, and certainly other off-campus students, have experienced rejections from rental applications because they were students. Many landlords prefer young people who are financially independent and out of college already. The increasing price tag and population of San Francisco is directly affecting USF students’ ability to find the convenience of living remotely close to campus. The technology boom in Silicon Valley obviously draws people from all over the world, with more income and resources than college students. This only makes the housing market more competitive, which is concerning for students attending a growing college campus in the heart of the city. Most of us on staff do not intend on working in the tech industry, and most other jobs would make it extremely difficult to support oneself independently in this city, particularly at a starting salary.
In order for students to deal with these housing restrictions, we can only propose that San Francisco makes tenancy regulations that allow landlords to be more open to renting their properties out to students. There are fair housing laws already in place, but there are no specifics regarding discrimination towards students, particularly if students were qualified for signing rental leases by every other standard.
As students attending a private university in the city with the highest income gap in the nation, we have to acknowledge certain privileges we have just by being here. Almost all of us would not be able to afford to live here if our parents were not subsidizing our rent. As even more students flock to USF, is it possible we are simply adding to the problem?
However, the tech industry’s growth, population growth in the Bay Area, the housing crisis, and the fact that this beloved and popular city exists in an obnoxiously small section of the peninsula (forty-nine square miles!) is going to price out anyone, including college students, from the city.