The Bay Area is experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and San Francisco is one of the cities where this crisis is playing out more prominently.
Average rental prices for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco have reached close to $2,800 a month; anything more spacious than that will put you back even more. If the rule of thumb that rent should account for no more than 30% of your monthly income still applies, you’d need to make close to $10,000 a month (a six figure annual salary) to make ends meet in San Francisco. That’s way more than most of us can afford. With a growing number of Ellis Act evictions also making headlines, it almost seems like San Francisco will soon become a city exclusively for the elite as lower income and impoverished families are essentially priced out.
Thankfully, there are still many community-based organizations working hard to ensure that people from all walks of life can stay in the city. One of these organizations is Gum Moon Women’s Residence, located in Chinatown. Founded in 1868, Gum Moon’s Asian Women Residence Center and Residence Hall programs have become mainstays of support for San Francisco’s women and children in need, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or creed.
I took a tour of the residence center recently and was thoroughly impressed with the services it provides. The transitional housing program offers rooms to women for as low as $476 a month for a single room and $384 for a shared double room. The rooms are very clean and spacious compared to most longer term residency motels in the area–I lived in a residency motel for the first month that I moved to San Francisco and paid over $250 a week ($1,000+ a month). The room was half the size of those at Gum Moon. The center also has many facilities for the residents, including a laundry room, a kitchen, dining room and community room.
Beyond that, Gum Moon also offers various family programs including parent-child development classes, after-school homework assistance classes, and community activities. They also have programs that aim to support survivors of abuse, who can reside at their facility at an even lower cost through a partial government subsidy program.
As affordable housing in San Francisco become scarcer and a sustainable solution has yet to be worked out, organizations like Gum Moon will become all the more important.