BART has now approved a development project at the West Oakland Station that will include 762 housing units (!!!) with more than 30% of units being marked specifically for affordable housing. The development will also include more than 50,000 square feet of retail space and 300,000 square feet of office space, along with additional crosswalks and wide sidewalks for pedestrian access, perfect for getting those Fitbit steps in. The hope is that this project will be transformative for West Oakland, providing much needed housing that is more easily accessible to neighborhood amenities and resources.
The average U.S. home costs $240,000. But in San Francisco, a two-bedroom apartment costs around $750,000 to build. The costs of construction in SF are 13% higher than New York, 60% more expensive than Chicago, and 75% more than in Houston. But why is it SO expensive?
For starters, the price of land and labor in California is insanely higher than other states. In SF, a construction worker makes about $90 an hour. (Did you just audibly gasp because you had no idea this was a construction worker's average wage and consider maybe you too could work in construction someday? Because same).
But it’s not just that. There are so many costs that go into building affordable housing. Government fees, permits, hiring consulting companies.... So. Many. Things. It literally took the City Council 6 months just to agree on the financing paperwork alone. More attorneys are involved in projects than actual construction workers. And we wonder why it takes SO long to get any sort of traction on building affordable housing (or any housing at all) in the city. *Insert crying face emoji here.*
Ever since leading tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google all landed on the West Siiiide (did you say that in your best Tupac voice?), affordable housing has been nearly impossible to find. Recently these companies vowed to find solutions to this issue in their local communities. But are their efforts enough? Some say nah.
Despite the billions of dollars they've pledged and initiatives they've started (Amazon literally opened a homeless shelter on their downtown campus), many folks feel that it might be too little too late. With homelessness rising and diversity dwindling in these communities, a lot of people believe that the money being thrown at the problem just isn't enough. Is there a better solution? That’s yet to be seen. But hey, this is a start.
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