San Francisco houses over 30 institutions of higher education that enroll more than 80,000 full-time students needing student housing. However, only nine of these schools provide any housing for their population, totalling less than 9,000 beds. Therefore, there is an estimated 60,000 bed shortfall for students. As a result, most students coming here to study are thrown onto the City’s housing market and compete for existing housing stock.
In 2010, the SFHAC began addressing our problem by working with District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty to produce San Francisco’s first student housing ordinance. Its goal was to create an incentive for developers to build new housing for students by waiving the City’s inclusionary housing fee for “qualified student housing projects.” We thought that by substantially lowering the production costs, the economic feasibility of building student housing would be improved.
In 2011, SFHAC worked with District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener and passed a second, more technical, piece of legislation that introduced definitions of student housing into the SF Planning Code. Over the last few years, SFHAC has convened three student housing roundtables, where representatives from most of the City’s schools have gathered to exchange information and learn about the ordinances.
Despite these efforts, there has been little new student housing built since these two ordinances were passed. We have not solved the riddle of why such an attractive economic incentive has been more-or-less ignored in favor of production of standard market-rate housing.