Co-ops Could Help Solve San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Crisis

San Francisco looks at this less expensive avenue to home ownership. 

Co-op housing, a forgotten housing format, is getting a second look as the high cost of real estate has displaced working-class families, entire communities of color and generations of locals.

More than 40% of people who work in the City can no longer live here. Redfin puts the current median price of a single-family home at $1.8 million. As of October, San Francisco’s median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,395 per month and $2,771 per month for a two-bedroom, based on data from rental company Apartment List.

How co-op ownership works

Cooperative housing — which can offer a less expensive avenue to home ownership — has been a model used to help combat displacement and gentrification in other cities nationwide. When residents buy a co-op unit, they purchase a share of the entire property equal to all other neighbors within the building. They develop ownership equity and manage the building together.

The model has been largely neglected here in recent years despite worsening inequality.

“We have an opportunity to re-introduce radical ways of building back San Francisco by stabilizing residents who have been wrecked by the pandemic and racial and economic disparities,” said Supervisor Myrna Melgar, who called a hearing at the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee on Nov. 1 to better understand how The City can invest in cooperative housing complexes.

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