Bay Area displacement map created by campus researchers predicts loss of affordable housing

Urban Displacement Project/Courtesy

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On Monday, UC Berkeley researchers released an interactive map — which predicts a loss of low-income households in suburban areas — detailing different stages of displacement in the Bay Area.

The research, funded by the California Air Resources Board and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, is the first part of a project that studies the relationship between air quality, transit planning and housing challenges.

According to Karen Chapple, professor of city and regional planning at the campus College of Environmental Design and the principal investigator of the research, the study focuses on the number of residents in the community who have already been displaced and on how the displacement is related to public transportation facilities.

The research zoomed in on nine regions across the Bay Area, ranging from the Mission District in San Francisco — which is traditionally the icon of gentrification under the influence of the dot-com boom, the project’s website said — to suburban areas such as Monument Corridor in Concord, which is just starting to see displacement because of its proximity to BART.

“It’s not just in the Mission District where displacement can happen,” Chapple said. “We now think about the problem much more broadly.”

The study also identifies several comparatively stable communities that continue to preserve affordable housing — such as Marin City and San Francisco’s Chinatown — because of the traditions of community organization and planning restrictions.

But Gen Fujioka — public policy manager of the Chinatown Community Development Center, an organization that works to build community in the neighborhood — said the research is a conservative estimate of the risks and changes that the community has experienced. The data go only to 2013, he said, and the pressure on the community has increased substantially since then.

According to Fujioka, rent for residential hotels, where tenants rent single rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens, has seen an increase since 2013, and the majority of Chinatown residents cannot afford it today. Historically, residential hotels have been the most basic housing and the last resort for people who have to leave their apartments, as well as an access point for immigrants.

“We need to do more to protect tenants to live in where they live now,” Fujioka said. “Once they lose their place, they cannot afford to live in the city.”

According to the Affordable Housing Guidebook of East Bay Housing Organizations, a nonprofit that advocates affordable housing, the wage needed to afford a market-rate apartment in the East Bay is $25 an hour, while the minimum wage in Berkeley will be $11 an hour, effective Oct. 1.

“Pressure on the housing market could continue for many years if we don’t protect the residents there already,” Chapple said. “We should be thinking about 2030 right now to protect them.”

Contact Tianyi Dong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dong_tianyi.