San Francisco won’t allow the building up of the city – tower blocks aren’t to be allowed to spoil things. San Francisco won’t allow building on much of the land in the City because of nature and that all important environment. San Francisco also has strict rent control.
Supply of housing is therefore somewhat constrained. The effect:
San Francisco’s homeless count surged 17% to more than 8,000 people.
That Californian measure of “homeless” is akin to our own measure of “rough sleeping”. This isn’t the number without a secure and affordable tenancy, the sort of measure Shelter likes to use. This is the number thinking themselves lucky to have a layer of canvas between them and the sky.
The land area of San Francisco is 121 square kilometers. That of the UK is 242,495 square kilometers.
Thus they have roughly that same number – 8,000 (for the UK it’s perhaps 5,000 on any one night, 9,000 over the course of a year) of homeless on considerably less land. The UK has, in relation to land area, 0.049% of the homeless rate of San Francisco. Or, the other way around, SF has 20,000 times the homeless rate, in relation to land area, as the UK.
Other calculations can be done to population size and so on.
But what we might learn from this is that making it difficult to build anything and having price controls on what is built probably isn’t the way to solve homelessness, right? Which does raise the interesting question. Why do so many here argue that we’ve got to have rent control? And, obviously, no one can be allowed to loosen planning regs either?